In Nuevo Laredo, MSF patients face severe anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress due to the danger of being returned to Mexico and uncertainty of their future. “Our patients are living in a state of limbo and constant fear,” said Martin. “They are traumatized and in need of mental health support.”
MPP is just one in a litany of new extremely harmful asylum restrictions enacted by the US in cooperation with governments in the region that risk people’s lives and purposefully send people back to danger.
In 2019 the US negotiated migration agreements with the governments of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador that would allow them to send asylum seekers to these countries.
“Many of our patients are escaping high levels of violence in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador,” said Marcelo Fernandez, regional coordinator for MSF programs in Central America. “It is preposterous that the US would send people back to the very same Central American countries people are fleeing in the first place.”
In addition to being unsafe, these countries do not have the necessary infrastructure, protection mechanisms, or funding in place to begin receiving asylum seekers. There is limited information about the exact terms of these deals, how they will be implemented, or what the timing will be, said MSF.
“The people we are seeing along the migration route are well aware of the dangers they will face along the way, but they are desperate to escape violence and poverty back home and they will continue to seek refuge in the United States,” said Fernandez. “A year since Remain in Mexico was implemented, there’s no question of the toll it has taken and the risks it creates for extremely vulnerable people. The United States must end this cruel and inhumane policy that forces people to risk their lives to seek asylum.”
In Mexico, MSF provides medical and mental health care in shelters Tapachula, Tenosique, Coatzacoalcos, Nuevo Laredo, Mexicali, Reynosa, and Matamoros. In Mexico City, MSF runs a specialized therapeutic center for migrants and asylum seekers who are victims of extreme violence.