Despite their own reporting from earlier in the week explaining how Border Patrol was swamped and at a breaking point that they had to detain dozens of illegal immigrants in an area under an overpass, Wednesday’s CBS Evening News decried the administration’s “remain in Mexico” program for those seeking asylum.
The report was a part of the program’s “Eye on America” segment and anchor Jeff Glor said it was meant to take a look at “how a shift in U.S. asylum policy is sending hundreds back across the border into legal limbo.”
CBS correspondent Omar Villafranca was in Tijuana, Mexico and spoke with two young men who were “who are legally seeking asylum in the United States have been sent back to remain in Mexico to await their hearing.”
Villafranca explained how one of the men he spoke with, who had his name changed for the report at the request of his lawyer, “told us back in Honduras, he was the target of local gangs. He showed us police reports alleging they were under threat.”
“The Trump administration says they need to expand the “Remain in Mexico” program because of a dramatic surge in the number of asylum seekers to the U.S., which they say is overwhelming the system,” Villafranca reported sounding skeptical.
But it’s true, and CBS’s own reporting proved it. On Monday night, CBS’s Manuel Bojorquez reported on the 100,000 illegal immigrants Border Patrol apprehended just last month. They were so overwhelmed they had to detain them in a fenced-in area under an overpass.
Late last year, CBS actually had a report documenting how seeking asylum was supposed to work.
In November, CBS spoke with teenager Edgar Reyes who was granted asylum because, as he explained: “A government representative said I received asylum because I had proof of persecution, presenting over 400 pages of evidence.” He was even beaten by police during political protests. “I’m happy to be in a safe place. And to be in a country where my rights are respected,” he told CBS.
That is it. Asylum is meant for people where were being persecuted, oppressed, and even killed by their governments. Villafranca noted that the men he spoke with were being targeted by gangs but that’s not what asylum protects people from. He also failed to mention how a vast majority of people seeking asylum are denied it because they don’t meet the requirements.
Villafranca fretted about the men’s wait time. “With a backlog of over 800,000 asylum cases now pending in the U.S., Angel, and Jose might have to wait in Mexico for months,” he said.
He also dismissed Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen’s concern for asylum seekers disappearing into the United States. “Of the more than 43,000 asylum cases processed last year, almost 90 percent of the applicants showed up to their court hearing,” he argued.
First off, that still meant 4,300 people disappeared. Second, if 10 percent of the 800,000 people he noted were waiting disappeared, that’s 80,000 people slipping away.
The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:
CBS Evening News
April 3, 2019
6:41:40 p.m. Eastern
JEFF GLOR: The Secretary of Homeland Security is comparing the situation at the southern border to a cat-5 hurricane disaster. Kirstjen Nielsen says that means possibly shutting down the southern border or sending in troops to stop a surge of migrants seeking asylum. The administration has implemented what is known as the "Remain in Mexico" program. In tonight's "Eye on America," Omar Villafranca shows us how a shift in U.S. asylum policy is sending hundreds back across the border into legal limbo.
[Cuts to video]
OMAR VILLAFRANCA: Along the southern border, migrants seeking asylum in the United States are now being told to wait here in Mexico. Migrants, like 19-year-old Angel and 29-year-old Jose from Honduras, who are legally seeking asylum in the United States have been sent back to remain in Mexico to await their hearing. Their attorney asked to us change their names to protect their identity.
ANGEL (via translator): I am fleeing because they want to kill me. I am not a thief or a murderer.
VILLAFRANCA: They're living in a church with more than 40 other men, women, and children. Angel told us back in Honduras, he was the target of local gangs. He showed us police reports alleging they were under threat.
ANGEL (via translator): How I can return to my country when my life is at risk there? That's why I'm trying to get to the U.S. and right here, I'm not safe.
VILLAFRANCA: He means Tijuana, one of the most dangerous cities in the western hemisphere, more violent than any city in Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador.
There were more than 2,000 murders in Tijuana. This is a very violent city. Last year, two young Honduran migrants were murdered here after leaving a shelter. Mexican officials tell CBS News, at least 500 migrants, including families, are among the asylum seekers sent back to Mexico.
The Trump administration says they need to expand the "Remain in Mexico" program because of a dramatic surge in the number of asylum seekers to the U.S., which they say is overwhelming the system. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen says it's important for another reason.
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN: They will not be able to disappear into the United States. They will have to wait for approval to come into the United States.
VILLAFRANCA: 2017 Justice Department numbers show the majority of these migrants did not disappear. Of the more than 43,000 asylum cases processed last year, almost 90 percent of the applicants showed up to their court hearing. With a backlog of over 800,000 asylum cases now pending in the U.S., Angel and Jose might have to wait in Mexico for months.
If the U.S. says you cannot come into the U.S., what are you going to do?
ANGEL (via translator): We want to get to the U.S. legally. We don't want to jump walls.
JOSE: If they say no, we have to find another way to get there.
VILLAFRANCA: Angel's and Jose's American dream is right across the border, but their legal journey is just beginning. Omar Villafranca, CBS News, Tijuana, Mexico.