Bethany on Asylum Policies at the U.S. Border: Families seeking refuge face new dangers

December 03, 2019

Grand Rapids, Michigan, 12/3/2019 — Bethany Christian Services, a global nonprofit that has supported refugee children and families for more than four decades, expressed deep concerns with the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which puts tens of thousands of asylum-seekers at higher risk of danger, violence, and family separation.

Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began to implement MPP, commonly known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. Under this policy so far, more than 50,000 asylum seekers – including more than 16,000 children and nearly 500 infants – have been sent to Mexico to wait during the duration of their pending cases in the U.S. immigration court system.

“The ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy might seem like a simple solution, but children and families seeking asylum are not safe in Mexico,” said Chris Palusky, Bethany’s President and CEO. “I visited the border earlier this year and even then, the situation felt dire. I met mothers and children who were living in a makeshift camp. I saw sick children cough as they sat hungry in worn tents. All of this was happening within a stones-throw from California where countless churches, nonprofits, and individuals were equipped and ready to help them.”

Hoping to keep their children alive, some parents have made the difficult decision to send their kids to the United States alone, according to government data. One child in Bethany’s transitional foster care program reported crossing the border alone after his mother was kidnapped in Mexico. Others, like Juanita, recounted the dire conditions in their home countries and in Mexico that pushed them to seek safety in the U.S.

“No parent should ever feel like they have to separate from their children to keep them safe. Families should be safely kept together, whenever possible,” said Dona Abbott, Bethany’s Senior Vice President for Global and Refugee Services. “We know that affordable, compassionate, and effective alternatives to ‘Remain in Mexico’ exist. Let’s help families safely care for their children while they comply with U.S. immigration law.”

In 2016, Bethany helped develop the Family Case Management Program (FCMP), which allows kids and families to live safely in the community during their immigration proceedings. Families in FCMP had a 99 percent compliance rate with required immigration proceedings before the program was prematurely cancelled in June of 2017.

Palusky concluded, “We urge Congress and the Administration to rescind the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy and instead back policies like FCMP that have demonstrated success where it counts: in keeping families safe and together.”

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About Bethany *Bethany is a global nonprofit that supports children and families with world-class social services, all designed to help families thrive. Over 75 years ago, we began our work by serving a single child. Today, we work in more than 30 states and more than a dozen countries worldwide, impacting hundreds of thousands of people every year.

Bethany has been committed to supporting refugees – those forced from their homes because of their faith, their political beliefs, or their ethnicity – for over 40 years.*