Report: Crimes against migrants waiting in Mexico to seek U.S. asylum continue to climb

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A group of migrants walk across an international bridge from the United States to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico after requesting asylum in the U.S. on July 23, 2019. Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

More than 600 migrants who are seeking asylum in the United States have been the victims of violent crimes in Mexico after being sent there under a controversial immigration policy, according to a report by Human Rights First.

There have been at least 636 reports of crimes like rape, kidnapping, torture and other crimes since January, when the administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols was implemented. Some of the alleged incidents involved more than one victim.

The watchdog organization said the latest tally is an increase of nearly 300 incidents since their report in October.

The program, also known as "remain in Mexico," requires asylum seekers to stay in Mexico until their court hearings in the United States. In Texas, MPP is in effect in the border cities of El Paso, Eagle Pass, Laredo and Brownsville, whose sister cities in Mexico have all seen sustained or increased violence this year.

The group said the report's sourcing includes interviews with asylum seekers, attorneys, court monitors, researchers, Mexican officials, and media reports.

“The extensive and escalating public accounts of kidnappings and attacks on asylum seekers turned back to remain in Mexico are highly alarming,” said Kennji Kizuka, the group's senior researcher and policy analyst. “What’s worse is that many more men, women and children have certainly suffered attacks, the numbers we have are just cases that have been reported.”

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment about Human Rights First’s findings.