House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday announced the start of an investigation into the legality of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), under which refugees and asylum seekers are deprived due process and access to counsel while being forced to remain in Mexico indefinitely.
In a two-page letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, Nadler reiterated the Judiciary Committee’s conclusion that the policy is unlawful on its face and should be discarded. The letter was also signed by Chair of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.)
“MPP is inconsistent with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) statutory authority, while exposing thousands of people to threats of murder, sexual violence, and kidnapping as they are forced to wait in extremely dangerous conditions before their asylum claims may be heard,” Nadler wrote. “The policy has nearly eliminated the already scarce due process protections available to asylum-seekers — such as access to counsel — further reducing the likelihood that legitimate asylum-seekers can obtain asylum. Moreover, MPP forces women, children, and families to remain in areas that the federal government recognizes as especially unsafe.”
The letter accuses the Trump administration of stonewalling the Committee’s attempts to learn about the policy and demands that DHS turn over any relevant documents and information pertaining to the development and execution of the policy by Jan. 30.
“The House Judiciary Committee has held hearings, sent oversight letters, and participated in a variety of staff-level briefings in which administration officials have been unable or unwilling to answer basic questions relating to MPP,” the letter stated. “A comprehensive review of the policy, its implementation, and its impact on vulnerable populations is necessary.”
The panel is specifically seeking any intra-government communications regarding the policy and a statistical breakdown of the individuals that have been subjected to the policy, among other things.
Senate Democrats wrote a letter last year stating their opposition to MPP, which they said forced the U.S. government to “turn its back on its domestic and international legal obligations by forcing men, women, and children to await resolution of their U.S. asylum cases in parts of Mexico plagued by violence.”
[image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images]