Reuters/ Mexico City
A Salvadoran man seeking asylum in the US was kidnapped and murdered in the Mexican border city of Tijuana where he was sent to wait for his asylum court hearing under a migrant protection programme instated by President Donald Trump.
Critics of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) have argued that the migrants affected by the initiative, mostly from the impoverished and violence-plagued countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, are at risk in Mexico.
“They sent us back. We said Tijuana was really dangerous, there was a lot of crime but they didn’t listen to us. They said that they couldn’t do anything because those were Trump’s orders,” the man’s widow said.
The widow and her lawyer asked for her and her husband’s name to remain anonymous for security reasons.
Along the US-Mexico border, the migrants, many of them babies and toddlers, are living in high-crime cities, often in crowded shelters and tents or on the streets — for the weeks or months it takes to get a US asylum hearing.
The 35-year-old Salvadoran man, father-of-two, had waited for four months in Tijuana where he had found a job at a pizzeria, said his widow.
“They kidnapped my husband, he disappeared and unfortunately when I found him he was dead,” said the widow. He was killed on November 20 after being stabbed in the neck, chest and abdomen, according to a death certificate.
Mexican authorities said the man was “dismembered” and they are investigating the circumstances surrounding his death.
Since MPP was launched in January 54,000 migrants have been sent to wait in Mexico for their US immigration court hearings.
A report released last week by the New York City-based organisation Human Rights First found at least 636 publicly reported cases of kidnapping, rape, torture, assault, and other violent attacks against migrants sent to Mexico under the programme.
“We didn’t cross over illegally, we crossed over the right way, we waited our turn to do things right. That’s why this is so unfair,” said the widow.
Acting customs and border protection commissioner Mark Morgan rejected the idea that the Trump administration was responsible for attacks on migrants waiting in Mexico and blamed criminal organisations.
Meanwhile US asylum seekers sent to Guatemala under the new Trump administration programme have mostly preferred to return to their country of origin instead of staying in the Central American nation, Guatemala’s interior minister said.
The new effort began after the administration of President Trump brokered an agreement with the Guatemalan government in July. Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart said that a total of 24 people have been sent to Guatemala under the programme.
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