Kidnappers prey with ‘total impunity’ on migrants waiting for hearings in Mexico (The Guardian)
What is an asylum seeker?
Also known as asylee applicant, an asylume seeker is a person who flees his/her home country, enters another country and applies for asylum, i.e. the right to international protection, in this other country.
THE GUARDIAN (FEB 18, 2020).- A score or so migrants crouch in the dark corridor of the safe house where they have been waiting for a month. Today, their turn has come to go back on the road again – not across the US border, however, but deeper into Mexico, to save their skins.
Outside, a minivan pulls up, driven by Baptist pastor Lorenzo Ortíz to take the migrants to relative safety, and away from kidnap, extortion and violation.
This is Nuevo Laredo, in the north-west corner of Tamaulipas state, opposite Laredo, Texas, the world’s busiest commercial trans-border hub. The people waiting to board the van have already crossed into the USA, but have been sent back under the Trump administration’s so-called Migrant Protection Protocols – known as “Remain in Mexico” – whereby would be asylum-seekers must await their appointed hearing south of the border.
MPP was rolled out in January last year, since when an estimated 57,000 people now wait south of the border for their asylum hearing date. Tens of thousands more are waiting just for the initial application for asylum.
These are the faces behind statistics in a shocking report by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which found 80% of migrants waiting in Nuevo Laredo under MPP to have been abducted by the mafia, and 45% to have suffered violence or violation.
The door of the safe house opens and blinding sunlight beckons those awaiting, as does Pastor Ortíz, who arrives across the border from Laredo each morning to take a vanload to the larger city of Monterrey, Nuevo León.
There can be no tarrying, explains another local pastor, Diego Robles, from the First Baptist Church. “If they walk to the corner of the block”, he says, “they’re likely to be kidnapped”.
Robles knows the risk he runs. Last August, criminals approached Aarón Méndez, a Seventh Day Adventist managing another shelter nearby, demanding he hand over Cubans in his care, whose relatives in the USA might pay high ransoms for their release.
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