A lawsuit filed in Brownsville against the Trump administration this week alleges that Customs and Border Protection sent a woman and two children back to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP, ‘Remain in Mexico’ program) in violation of federal immigration law.
Filed by W.T., a resident of Houston, the suit alleged that his partner and two minor children were apprehended in the United States after crossing without documents and were placed in MPP as opposed to being classified as “Entry Without Inspection”, which should have allowed them to remain in the U.S. for the duration of their asylum proceedings.
E.A. – the man’s spouse – and the couple’s two boys, fled Honduras after suffering persecution for her involvement in La Mesa Nacional, an environmental group that worked to protest industry and government projects since 2010, according to the lawsuit.
“ [E.A.] became the President of the local chapter of her group in 2018. It was at this time she and her family were harassed, threatened with death, and physically harmed. On one occasion, [her son] was kidnapped by military officials and held in an abandoned house. These officials tied [the child] up and even burned him. When [E.A.] was led to his location, she was detained as well,” the document stated.
“ They tied her up, put a gun in her mouth, and beat her over the head to the point where she lost consciousness,” wrote her attorney.
The woman and children left Honduras in October 2019 and arrived in the United States in early November of last year. W.T. left one month prior, in September 2019, applied for asylum, and was allowed to enter the United States, the lawsuit stated.
When E.A. and the two boys were apprehended and expressed fear of return to both Honduras and Mexico, they were returned to Matamoros.
E.A. allegedly told U.S. immigration officials she was “terrified of going to Matamoros because of the high levels of crimes there”, and according to the lawsuit, she and her children were served with notices to appear and told to wait for their court dates before officials sent them back across anyway.
In Matamoros, the attorney alleged the family has experienced “deplorable” living conditions inside a shelter that houses approximately 150 adults and children. Concerns include that there is a single community restroom, no privacy even when showering, beds extremely close together, and no possibility of social distancing.
The shelter allegedly does not have tests available, masks, or gloves, and the lawsuit the family complained of a rat infestation and rat bites.