Post by: Esther Neds
Again the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to the land, ‘You are a land that has not been cleansed or rained on in the day of wrath.’
The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the foreigner, denying them justice
“I looked for someone among them who would . . . stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.
-Ezekiel 22:23-24, 29-30 (NIV)
God had some severe criticism of Israel in Ezekiel, part of which was the mistreatment and lack of justice for the poor and the foreigner. Today, we see the same mistreatment and injustice happening at our southern border. Regardless of your policy stance regarding immigration, I hope we can all agree that the migrants at our southern border deserve protection for their basic human rights.
The current administration has issued a new policy this year called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which ironically puts migrants in danger and does nothing to protect them. It is colloquially called the Remain in Mexico policy. This policy applies to migrants who have come to the US border to request asylum, a legal process for those who fear persecution from their home country on the basis of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion. This segment of migrants is already vulnerable, and this MPP policy makes them even more so. After the migrants have requested asylum and had an initial interview, they are sent across the border into Mexico to wait for the day in immigration court to prove they qualify as an asylee. However, because there are many more applicants than courts, the backlog is horrendous, and these migrants could be waiting for years.
This policy has created a set of dangerous problems for migrants. The border cities in Mexico are dangerous with kidnappings and violence a common occurrence. Human Rights First, a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization, published a report in August 2019 that found more than 110 publicly reported cases of rape, kidnapping, sexual exploitation, assault, and other violent crimes were committed against migrants in the MPP who were sent back to Mexico, and that number is likely only the tip of the iceberg. In addition, during the first 6 months of 2019, when the MPP was first implemented, kidnappings in Ciudad Juárez, a border city near El Paso, increased one hundred percent.
Further, the attorneys who would be able to represent these migrants are in the US, and most of them cannot or will not represent someone who lives across on the Mexico side of the border because of the logistical complications. In addition, the migrants generally do not have a consistent address in Mexico because they are staying at shelters and moving around to stay safe, and so the courts in the US have a difficult time sending the migrants notice of their courts. This has resulted in migrants missing their court dates because of insufficient notice.
The MPP has been legally challenged and is making its way through the court system, but regardless of whether it is legal or not, this policy is endangering the lives of foreigners and making justice for them difficult, if not impossible. In Ezekiel, God was looking for someone to stand up against the injustice in Israel’s culture, but He found no one. Who will stand up for the foreigners today?
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.