Fox News host Laura Ingraham argued on her show Wednesday night that asylum seekers shouldn’t make the journey north to the U.S.-Mexico border, but should instead simply apply for asylum “in the safety of [their] home country.”
“If you want to apply for asylum, that’s fine,” Ingraham said. “But you should do so in the safety of your home country or, as is beginning to happen now, once you’re in the United States and you declare [asylum], you should be sent to Mexico until your case comes up for hearing. We have a backlog right now of 800,000 immigration cases.”
Ingraham added that a policy of forcing asylees to make their claims in a country other than the U.S. would discourage migrant families and those “posing” as family units from coming here.
“If someone crosses the border illegally, they should be turned back immediately. Family units or people posing as family units would not make this dangerous trek once word spread in their home country.”
Laura Ingraham: "If you want to apply for asylum, that's fine. But you should do so in the safety of your home country." pic.twitter.com/ef7b1Vv4Q9
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) March 7, 2019
Her argument, however, is deeply flawed and based on the false premise that asylees feel safe enough in their countries to remain there for months while their cases play out in U.S. immigration court. If that were true, they wouldn’t leave their homes and make the expensive, dangerous journey in the first place.
The kind of policy Ingraham is proposing is also against the law.
U.S. asylum law states that any person “physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum.”
The “North Triangle” nations of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador — where most asylum seekers are coming from — are some of the most dangerous in the world. Women and their families are frequently driven out of their homes either by violent gangs or domestic violence. In Mexico, indigenous people in particular are popular targets of that nation’s drug cartels. Indigenous communities make up 13 percent of Mexico’s population, but are 60 percent of those displaced fleeing drug-related violence.
In spite of this, the Trump administration is expanding a policy that would force asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their cases are processed. It’s the administration’s crafty way of getting around the fact that the latest influx of migrants to the United States without papers cannot be swiftly detained and deported. Migrants applying for asylum at select ports of entry will now have to wait in deteriorating shelters in Juarez or Tijuana — cities that are unsafe for anyone, but especially migrants from Central America. A 2017 report from Human Rights First found Mexico to be the third most dangerous place for refugees.
The “Remain in Mexico” policy, as it is known colloquially, harms the lives of LGBTQ asylum seekers in particular, with two-thirds of LGBTQ refugees from Central America suffering from sexual and gender-based violence in Mexico. Last spring, inhabitants of a shelter in Tijuana, Mexico specifically set aside for transgender members of the migrant caravan from Central America were attacked and robbed.