The view from the Matamoros, Mexico side of the Rio Grande — just across from Brownsville, Texas — reveals an unsettling scene.
Young women and children bathe openly in the murky green water, while others wash their clothes on the bank of the river that has claimed so many lives – most recently those of Idalia and her 21-month-old son Iker. This is the new painful reality of seeking asylum in the United States.
These families are not at the river by choice. They are being forced to wait in perilous conditions as a result of the Trump administration’s forced return to Mexico policy, which it perversely calls the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).
Under the policy, which the ACLU and partners are challenging in a federal lawsuit, people fleeing persecution and legally seeking asylum in the U.S. are forced to wait in Mexico for months on end while their cases proceed in U.S. immigration courts. The Trump administration wants people to think that the policy is benign, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Since going into effect earlier this year, MPP has been actively putting the lives of asylum-seekers in grave danger. For the most vulnerable people, including pregnant women, young children, and babies, this danger is particularly acute.