By: Graciela Zamudio
In September 2021, two important resolutions were notified for the migrant community in the region: First, the resolution of a US court that declared the List or “Meeting” system is illegal and that asylum seekers must be processed immediately upon presentation at a port of entry. Also, the resolution of a Mexican court determined that the collaboration between the Municipal Police and the National Migration Institute resulting in the express and massive deportation of people is illegal.
Both resolutions protect the application of the regulations of both countries in an equal manner for all migrants. In other words, the US resolution protects that no asylum seeker in our neighboring country has to wait in Mexican territory before starting their process, meaning that everyone enters immediately upon presenting themselves at the port of entry. For its part, the Mexican resolution analyzes our legal system and determines that the municipal police lacks the power to request immigration documents from people, detain them for not having them or hand them over to the immigration authorities after detaining them for any reason, since doing so with migrants just because they are from other countries it’s illegal.
Experience tells us that when a judge has ruled on any action by the authorities, it is usually because the authorities have violated people’s rights. These two cases are no exception.
The practice known as “PoliMigra”, in which the migration institutions and the municipal police collaborate illegally to promote the detention and deportation policy of the Mexican state, and the practice known as “meeting” are both practices based on an unlawful treatment different from that established by law for migrants from other countries and those seeking asylum in the United States, respectively.
Since such determinations were issued by the courts of both countries, we continue to see how asylum seekers in the United States who are Central American and Mexican remain without being able to be processed upon arrival at the port of entry and the PoliMigra cases in Tijuana have continued to affect migrants from other countries, usually Central American or Afro-descendant population.
In particular, a novel modality has caught our attention in which the municipal police detain them in the downtown area of the city and take them to the border port of entry where they hand them over to the Mexican immigration authorities in a truck that takes them to the deportation facilities of the national migration institute. This particular practice disappeared from that area of the port of entry when the Ukrainian population settled there in march this year.
We have also witnessed the speed with which this population has been processed, which shows us the factual capacity of US authorities’ facilities to process asylum seekers in large numbers, which is remarkable given that the lack of that capacity has been a recurrent cause of justification for not carrying out an agile reception of applicants who are at the border over the years.
Recently the issue has been treated by some relevant actors as a merely legal situation that is justified by virtue of the seriousness of a humanitarian crisis secondary to the war in Eastern Europe, distinguishing it from other reasons for requesting asylum, such as violence in Central American countries and Mexico or poverty. These voices explain that there is no difference in the application of the law by the US authorities, since everything is a legal matter because some have a humanitarian cause to request asylum and others do not.
However, to be legal, all procedures must be resolved in their substance after processing them, not before, and therein lies the difference in the treatment of Ukrainian asylum seekers and Central American and Mexican asylum seekers. As for PoliMigra, there have been no cases of Ukrainian victims of this practice, it seems that the police have dedicated themselves to taking care of them, instead of forcibly moving them from their camp in the early morning, as they did with central americans in February this year.