Pilot Program To Help Asylum Seekers Waiting In Mexico Launched By Texas Lawmaker

Chris Fox
January 15, 2020 - 6:15 am
asylum seekers

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

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AUSTIN (1080 KRLD) - A pilot program to help asylum seekers find and confer with U.S.-based lawyers via teleconferencing was launched in Cd. Juárez at a Press Conference on Tuesday.

“Puentes Libres” also known as the Bridges of Freedom program will make it possible for pro-bono attorneys to provide full legal representation for pre-screened asylum claims, and consult with clients via remote video conferencing throughout the duration of an asylum claim.

The program is a partnership between El Paso State Sen. José Rodríguez, Hispanic Federation, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Municipal Government of Cd. Juárez, and federal and local immigration agencies in Cd. Juarez.

“Puentes Libres” aims to address the plight of thousands of asylum seekers forced to stay in Cd. Juárez and other Mexican cities under the “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP) imposed by the Trump administration last year. 

"MPP is far from 'protection.' In forcing asylum seekers back across the border, MPP put them in danger and have made it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for asylum seekers to find and talk to lawyers, file basic paperwork, and make court dates," state Sen. Rodríguez said. "We aim, once again, to find a local solution to a draconian federal regime that insists on punishing migrants, including those fleeing persecution and violence, at every opportunity."

Hispanic Federation (HF) donated 50 laptop computers set up with the technology needed for the project. These centers will make it possible for asylum seekers and attorneys to communicate remotely via secure internet connection, bypassing the obstacles created by our international boundary.

“We are pleased to facilitate the donation of 50 laptop computers from our partner Charter Communications,” stated Frankie Miranda, President of Hispanic Federation. “As part of our Latino Immigrant Families Together (LIFT) initiative, which seeks to address the humanitarian crisis taking place at the U.S.-Mexico border, this donation will help connect asylum seekers in Juarez with attorneys in the U.S. as they move through the asylum process.”