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Letter on Asylum Seekers and “Remain in Mexico” Policy

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Reconstructing Judaism and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Organization were among 153 signatories to a letter urging the Department of Homeland Security to end its “Migrant Protection Protocols” preventing asylum seekers from seeking refugee protection in the United States. The letter’s text and signatories appear below.


March 6, 2020

Dear Acting Secretary Wolf:

Our 153 legal representation, refugee assistance, faith-based, human rights, and community groups write to urge your agency to end the “Migrant Protection Protocols” (“MPP”), to allow asylum seekers to pursue refugee protection—from safety in the United States as required by U.S. law and treaties—and to inform you that we stand ready to provide legal representation and humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers in the United States.  

On Friday, February 28, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s April 2019 injunction blocking the MPP policy, a ruling which was subsequently stayed as the government pursues appeal.  We urge that your agency—and the Trump administration—immediately abandon efforts to prolong this legally flawed and dangerous policy.  As we know full well from our work with people seeking refuge at our southern border, asylum seekers in MPP have been subjected to kidnappings, torture, assaults, and other brutal violence while in Mexico waiting for their U.S. immigration court hearings.  In addition, MPP constitutes an insurmountable safety and logistical barrier to legal representation for many asylum seekers stranded in Mexico, as some of our groups detailed in a January 28 letter to you, which we again attach for your reference. About 95 percent of those in MPP are unable to secure legal representation.   

We urge the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to uphold U.S. asylum law and allow asylum seekers currently subject to MPP into the United States so they can seek asylum from safety in this country, as required under U.S. law and treaties.  The U.S. government is more than capable of managing refugee arrivals in humane ways without resorting to illegal border closures, threatening exercises of militarized force, and harsh, punitive policies. 

As you surely know, represented asylum seekers overwhelmingly appear for their hearings, as do those with community support.  Together, we will make every effort to ensure these asylum seekers can access pro bono legal representation and humanitarian assistance.  Many of our organizations have extensive expertise working with refugee populations around the world; others are deeply rooted in U.S. border communities and have long histories operating faith-based or community shelters.  Many of us will provide legal information about appearance obligations and referrals to legal representation, trauma counseling, medical care and other humanitarian necessities. Many of those in MPP have family in the United States—including in California, Florida, New York, and Texas—with whom they can stay.    

These men, women, and children—seeking asylum from Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela and elsewhere—have already suffered too much.  Many have been stranded in dangerous and difficult conditions under MPP for a year or more already.  They should not be subjected to additional harsh or punitive policies—including policies that block them from legal representation in their asylum proceedings—and should absolutely not be jailed in detention facilities and prisons.  

We are happy to meet with your agencies and others to plan for a prompt, humane, and orderly end to the MPP program.  


  • Abuelas RGV 
  • ACLU  
  • African American Ministers In Action  
  • Al Otro Lado   
  • Ameinu 
  • American Friends Service Committee  
  • American Immigration Council  
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association  
  • Angry Tias 
  • Anti-Defamation League 
  • Arizona Jews for Justice  
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC 
  • Asylum Seeker Assistance Project  
  • Augustinian 
  • Avodah 
  • Bay Area Health and Legal Partnerships for Immigrant Youth 
  • Benedictines for Peace 
  • CAIR Coalition  
  • Capuchin Franciscans, Prov. of St. Joseph  
  • Catholic Coalition for Migrants and Refugees  
  • Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona – Casa Alitas Program  
  • Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.  
  • Center for Gender & Refugee Studies 
  • Center for Victims of Torture  
  • Center Global  
  • Centro Legal de la Raza  
  • Church Women United in New York State 
  • Church World Service  
  • Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice  
  • Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)  
  • Colorado JCRC 
  • Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach  
  • Columbia Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic 
  • Community Change 
  • Conference of Major Superiors of Men  
  • Congregation Beth Israel  
  • Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces  
  • Congregation of the Mission, Western Province USA 
  • Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Inc. 
  • Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries 
  • Dominican Sisters of Sparkill  
  • DWN 
  • Families Belong Together  
  • Flint Jewish Federation  
  • Franciscan Action Network  
  • Freedom for Immigrants  
  • Freedom Network USA  
  • Glenmary Home Missioners  
  • Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition  
  • Haitian Bridge Alliance 
  • Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program    
  • HIAS, Inc.   
  • Hispanic Federation 
  • Hope Border Institute  
  • Human Rights First  
  • Human Rights Initiative of North Texas  
  • Human Rights Watch  
  • Immigration Center for Women and Children  
  • Immigration Equality  
  • Immigration Hub  
  • Immigrant Defenders Law Center 
  • Immigrant Legal Defense  
  • Immigrants’ Rights/International Human Rights Clinic, Center for Social Justice, Seton Hall Law  
  • Innovation Law Lab  
  • Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI) 
  • Interfaith Refugee & Immigration Service  
  • International Refugee Assistance Project  
  • International Rescue Committee  
  • Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix  
  • Jewish Community Relations Council of Portland 
  • Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey  
  • Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis   
  • Jewish Council for Public Affairs 
  • Jewish Family & Children’s Service  
  • Jewish Family and Community Services 
  • Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay 
  • Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis  
  • Jewish Family Services 
  • Jewish Family Service of Colorado   
  • Jewish Family Services of Columbus 
  • Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans   
  • Jewish Family Service LA  
  • Jewish Family Service of San Diego  
  • Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley  
  • Jewish Justice Advocates of Temple Beth El of South Orange County California  
  • Jewish Social Services of Madison 
  • Jewish Vocational Service in Boston   
  • Justice in Motion  
  • Justice Revival 
  • Keshet  
  • Kids in Need of Defense (KIND, Inc.)  
  • Kino Border Initiative  
  • Latin America Working Group (LAWG)  
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area  
  • Leadership Conference of Women Religious  
  • Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice  
  • Loyola Law School Immigrant Justice Clinic  
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service  
  • Mishkan Chicago  
  • National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd  
  • National Center for Transgender Equality 
  • National Council of Churches  
  • National Council of Jewish Women  
  • National Immigrant Justice Center  
  • National Immigration Law Center  
  • National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild 
  • National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights  
  • Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies  
  • NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice  
  • NM CAFé  
  • Orange County Jewish Coalition for Refugees 
  • Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church  
  • Passionist Solidarity Network  
  • Pax Christi USA  
  • Physicians for Human Rights  
  • Poder Latinx 
  • Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)  
  • Priests of the Sacred Heart, US Province  
  • Program for Torture Victims  
  • Public Counsel  
  • Rabbinical Assembly  
  • Reconstructing Judaism  
  • Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association  
  • Refugees International  
  • Rian Immigrant Center  
  • Safe Horizon  
  • Saint Francis Friary  
  • Sanctuary for Families  
  • San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium  
  • Save the Children   
  • Save the Children Action Network  
  • Sisters of Charity, BVM 
  • Sisters of Charity of New York   
  • Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Justice Team  
  • Sojourners  
  • Southern Border Communities Coalition 
  • Southern Poverty Law Center  
  • Spiritans  
  • Tahirih Justice Center  
  • Taylor Levy Law  
  • The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project 
  • The Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta  
  • The Priests of the Sacred Heart, US Province  
  • T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights 
  • Uri L’Tzedek  
  • Union for Reform Judaism  
  • United We Dream 
  • University of Southern California Gould School of Law Immigration Clinic  
  • Washington Office on Latin America  
  • Witness at the Border  
  • Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER)  
  • Women’s Refugee Commission 
  • Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights 

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