(CBS) – Since the Trump administration implemented its Migrant Protection Protocols in January, more than 51,000 people have been required to wait in Mexico as their court proceedings play out in the U.S. But when “CBS This Morning” embedded with Doctors Without Borders in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, physicians said the policies are inflicting lasting trauma on migrants – and putting their lives at risk.
“If they are identified as migrants in the streets, they might be kidnapped,” said Dr. Fabiola Pintero, with Doctors Without Borders. “It’s that dangerous.”
Pintado said that more than half of the asylum seekers they’ve spoken to have been victims of some sort of violence.
“It’s not safe for them to be here,” he said.
“CBS This Morning” spoke to a Honduran woman, who is part of MPP, who said that her husband was kidnapped when they got sent back to Mexico. He was eventually released because the couple couldn’t afford the ransom.
Felipe Reyes, a psychologist at one of the MPP shelters, has treated asylum seekers for everything from depression to PTSD.
“I’ve seen people kidnapped twice,” he said.
A new report from Physicians for Human Rights states that “U.S. policies have stranded asylum seekers” in Mexico, where they are “vulnerable to violence, theft, and extortion by cartels, gangs, and police authorities.” The group says 12 out of the 15 asylum seekers they spoke to showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder – and that even children reported having symptoms.
According to the administration’s protocols, also known as “Remain in Mexico,” all asylum seekers are now required to wait in Mexico for the entirety of their court proceedings.
“With MPP, migrants are receiving due process and protection while the United States is restoring integrity to our immigration system,” said Acting Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Mark Morgan.
The mayor in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico insists the city safe and the violence is under control. Last month, U.S. officials apprehended or turned away approximately 52,000 migrants, a more than 60% decline from the peak in May. CBP said on Tuesday that the immigration crackdown is working.