Doctors Without Borders Report Shows 'Wait in Mexico' Policy Exposing Asylum Seekers to Physical and Mental Harm


  • Juan Carlos Tomasi / Doctors Without Borders
Migrants waiting for U.S. courts to hear their asylum claims under the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" policy face escalating risks to their health and safety, according to a new report from the group Doctors Without Borders.

Eight of every 10 migrants the group treated in the border city of Nuevo Laredo during the first nine months of 2019 reported being a victim of violence. More than 43% said they had experienced violence in the seven days prior to their consultation.

What's more, 18.6% of the people seen in Doctors Without Borders' mental health program in Nuevo Laredo had been victims of kidnapping, and 63% of those said they had been abducted in the seven days prior to the consultation.

Nuevo Laredo is one of seven border locations where U.S. officials are returning asylum seekers so they can await courts rulings on their asylum cases. According to news reports, criminals have kidnapped and extorted migrants waiting in other cities on the list.

Doctors Without Borders' report is based on nearly 500 interviews and testimonies of Central American migrants and asylum seekers, experiences of the organization's staff and medical data from tens of thousands of people the it aided in the first nine months of last year.

"Just like the asylum seekers waiting their turn to enter the U.S. to initiate their claims, those who have been returned to Mexico while waiting for their application to be resolved also face serious risks and are systematically exposed to violence and potentially traumatic events," Doctors Without Borders said.

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