‘If I had known, I wouldn’t have left’: Migrant laments ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents processes migrants who crossed the border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector of Texas on Aug. 20. (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call file photo)

JUÁREZ, Mexico — Carlos left a wife and seven children behind in Nicaragua. Fleeing gang violence, he now stays here in an old factory converted into a migrant shelter. He sits on a white plastic chair next to the only son who made the trek to Mexico with him. “We don’t feel safe in Mexico,” he tells CQ Roll Call reporters.

The Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP, more commonly known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, initially began in January in San Diego and El Paso, and has contributed to a surge of cases in courts across the border.

Many advocates are calling for MPP to be rolled back. After making the trip north from Nicaragua, with a final destination of the U.S., Carlos says he feels like he is still in danger as he awaits his November court date. Advocates such as immigration lawyer Nicholas Palazzo say migrants like Carlos commonly wait for months in Mexico for their court date. “Unfortunately, nine times out of 10, the people I come across in MPP in Juárez, are telling me, ‘Please help me. I’d rather be in ICE custody in a detention center than in Juárez,” Palazzo tells CQ Roll Call.

Carlos sits in a shelter next to one of his eight children. One of hundreds of migrants in the cement and cinderblock structure, his son alternates between fidgeting and shedding tears as Carlos says he doesn't have the money to go home. 

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