Over the past several weeks, American immigration lawyers who work directly with asylum-seekers in Mexico have been denied entry to Mexico due to “migratory alerts” being placed on their passports by a foreign government. These denials have coincided with the rollout of a new policy by the Department of Homeland Security that is sending back some asylum-seekers to Mexico for the duration of their asylum process, where they will have to rely on immigration lawyers crossing the border to assist with their cases.
Last Friday, Nora Phillips, the executive director of Al Otro Lado, a legal service provider for refugees in Tijuana, was sent back to the U.S. from the airport in Guadalajara by Mexican authorities after a flight from Los Angeles. Phillips, who was separated from her 7-year-old daughter for at least 10 hours, was told that her that passport had been flagged by an unidentified government, but Mexican officials did not elaborate on why Phillips had been flagged.
Other lawyers in her organization are also being denied entry into the country. Nicole Ramos had her SENTRI pass, which offers expedited crossing at the border, revoked and confiscated two weeks ago.
“I crossed on that Thursday, and that’s when my SENTRI pass was confiscated. They advised me that they could not give me any information,” Ramos said.
Ramos is unsure what would happen if she were to leave Mexico and try to return. So she hasn’t left. Al Otro Lado’s litigation director was also denied entry to Mexico this week, after the Mexican government told her that an “alerta migratoria,” had been placed on her passport by an unidentified foreign government.