Problems Faced by Mexican Asylum Seekers in the United States
J. Anna Cabot
Violence in Mexico rose sharply in response to President Felipe Calderón’s military campaign against drug cartels which began in late 2006. As a consequence, the number of Mexicans who have sought asylum in the United States has grown significantly. In 2013, Mexicans made up the second largest group of defensive asylum seekers (those in removal proceedings) in the United States, behind only China (EOIR 2014b). Yet between 2008 and 2013, the grant rate for Mexican asylum seekers in immigration court fell from 23 percent to nine percent (EOIR 2013, 2014b). This paper examines—from the perspective of an attorney who represented Mexican asylum seekers on the US-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas—the reasons for low asylum approval rates for Mexicans despite high levels of violence in and flight from Mexico from 2008 to 2013. It details the obstacles faced by Mexican asylum seekers along the US-Mexico border, including placement in removal proceedings, detention, evidentiary issues, narrow legal standards, and (effectively) judicial notice of country conditions in Mexico. The paper recommends that asylum seekers at the border be placed in affirmative proceedings (before immigration officials), making them eligible for bond. It also proposes increased oversight of immigration judges.