Massachusetts asylum cases can go forward after ruling Thursday

Massachusetts asylum cases can go forward after ruling Thursday

BOSTON — Attorneys for three Massachusetts families with loved ones waiting in Mexico for asylum are hoping to give them a reunion like one captured at Logan Airport in February.

“It’s hard to describe the joy on everyone’s faces and relief knowing that people are out of danger,” says Matt Segal, Legal Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Because that’s what they’ve been when they’re in Mexico. What we hope is the families in this ruling will get to experience that same joy.”

On Thursday, a federal judge in Boston ordered the government to stop applying the U.S. Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program to asylum-seekers whose families brought the case. The preliminary injunction allows three women and two children to re-enter the U.S. while their asylum applications are being processed.

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The global coronavirus outbreak adds a new layer of risk into the lives of asylum-seekers stuck in Northern Mexico. Court proceedings are on hold and the ACLU says thousands of migrants have had their asylum requests on hold.

Segal says the asylum-seekers in this case have endured between eight and 10 months of danger from who he calls criminal actors and the spread of coronavirus in migrant camps.

“The government’s policies have essentially created what looks like refugee camps on the Mexican side of the border and criminal actors specifically seek them out to hurt them," said Segal. “Unfortunately, that’s what happened to one of our clients in this case, and it’s just been a brutal policy.”

According to the non-profit organization Human Rights Watch, less than one percent of those in the program have been granted asylum.

Boston 25 reached out to the families involved in the case, but they declined saying they are fearful of action by federal authorities.

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