Administration to add Brazilians to asylum-seekers required to wait in Mexico: report

Administration to add Brazilians to asylum-seekers required to wait in Mexico: report
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The Trump administration plans to add Brazilian asylum-seekers to the list of those who must remain in Mexico while their immigration cases are adjudicated, BuzzFeed News reported Wednesday.

More than 55,000 asylum-seekers from nations other than Mexico have been forced to wait in the country under the White House's Migration Protection Protocols (MPP). The majority have been from other Spanish-speaking nations, though the policy has also affected Central Americans who speak predominantly indigenous languages.

Brazil’s national language is Portuguese.

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“It is beyond nonsensical to force people who don’t speak Spanish to live in Mexico for an unknown period while they seek asylum,” Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy analyst at the American Immigration Council, told BuzzFeed News. “Staying safe in Mexico is already difficult for people in MPP, and Brazilian asylum-seekers will likely be at a heightened risk because they will be unable to access the limited services available to them due to language barriers. As a result, this decision will likely spur rejoicing in criminal cartels across the border.”

"I'd say it's discouraging we are placing non-Spanish speakers in a legally, economically, and physically challenging environment without support mechanisms or effective guidance,” an asylum officer told BuzzFeed.

Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told reporters in December that federal officials had noted an increase in Brazilian, Haitian and African migrants at the southern border.

Sources told BuzzFeed the plan is expected to begin in the El Paso area, although Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokeswoman Heather Swift said the department has “nothing to announce at this time.”

“DHS is always looking at ways to expand and strengthen the program to include new locations, populations, and procedures in order to further enhance protections for migrants and ensure safe and lawful migration," Swift told the publication.

Asylum-seekers returned to Mexico under the policy have been subjected to more than 800 publicly reported cases of rape, torture, kidnapping and murder, according to the advocacy group Human Rights First.

The Hill has reached out to DHS for comment.