Home Tech US Asylum Request Leaves Immigrants Stranded and Helps Organized Crime, Human Rights Group Says

US Asylum Request Leaves Immigrants Stranded and Helps Organized Crime, Human Rights Group Says

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US Asylum Request Leaves Immigrants Stranded and Helps Organized Crime, Human Rights Group Says

A US government smartphone app that strictly limits asylum appointments at the US-Mexico border is stranding vulnerable migrants in Mexico and enriching organized crime groups, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The report, which is based on interviews with more than 100 immigrants, as well as officials and activists, documents how the CBP One application, which is anything but obligatory for asylum seekers – offers 1,450 appointments daily, when arrivals at the border averaged 7,240 daily between May 2023 and January 2024.

This “digital metering” means asylum seekers must wait for an appointment or resort to paying human trafficking groups to help them cross the border between ports of entry.

“The Biden administration claims that its asylum rule and effectively mandatory use of CBP One will disrupt smuggling networks,” the report says. “Human Rights Watch has observed that, by contrast, digital measurement in Mexico leaves asylum seekers vulnerable to extortion, kidnapping and violence.

“And, having no other way to access protection, asylum seekers are more likely to turn to smugglers, further enriching criminal cartels,” the report adds.

The CBP One application became a requirement for asylum seekers in May 2023, as the United States prepared to lift Title 42, a pandemic-era immigration restriction, and anticipated a sharp increase in arrivals. to the border.

That increase in arrivals never materialized, but CBP One was maintained anyway.

There are certain exceptions to the requirement for a CBP One designation, including those who can demonstrate “an imminent threat of rape, kidnapping, torture, or murder” or “a serious form of human trafficking.”

However, HRW researchers document cases of rejected asylum seekers despite describing how they face such threats in Mexico.

Instead of waiting for an appointment in Mexico, many try to cross the border between ports of entry. Some drown in the Rio Grande, while others die of dehydration in the Sonoran Desert.

According to CBP data, 895 people died at the border during fiscal year 2022, the last year for which data has been published. That marked a 57% increase over 2021. Local organizations say so. underestimates the real number.

Those who choose to wait for an appointment may spend months at risk of being kidnapped by organized crime groups.

“It’s systematic,” said HRW researcher Ari Sawyer. “They kidnap them, put their phones on airplane mode, take photos of them and their documents, then check their contacts and call numbers in the United States until they find relatives who they can extort for dollars.”

One person interviewed by HRW described being kidnapped in the state of Durango and seeing perhaps 150 other people at the hideout where she was being held. Another, who was kidnapped in Mexicali, said he saw two people shot to death when they resisted.

Human Rights First, a human rights organization, documented 13,480 cases reported publicly of kidnappings and other violent attacks on migrants during the Biden administration until December 2022.

Instead of offering protection, Mexican officials sometimes collude with organized crime.

In one case, the mayor and police chief of Matehuala, a city in the state of San Luis Potosí, were arrested for their participation in a migrant kidnapping network.

Officials also often force people to board buses that take them back to southern Mexico, an informal policy that has expanded during the presidency of Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

“These people crossed Central America, crossed Mexico, are waiting for an appointment with CBP One, and then Mexican immigration picks them up, puts them on a bus and forcibly transports them to the border with Guatemala.” Sawyer said.

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This is part of Mexico’s role as an American immigration agent, charged with reducing arrivals at the border.

Last year, the official number of immigration detentions soared to 800,000. The first three months of 2024 have already seen almost 400,000.

When migrants are detained in Mexico, it is unclear what processes are followed to determine how long they are detained, where they are released, and whether they are repatriated. But the more time they spend in Mexico, the greater the risks they run.

“An app-based appointment system suggests the illusion of order and fairness, but in reality CBP One puts people in danger and means more profits and power for criminal cartels,” Sawyer said. “The United States and Mexico can and must do better.”

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