Border control agents have been instructed to specifically target Spanish speakers and migrants from Latin America as part of the Trump administration’s new policy pushing for asylum seekers to await their court dates from Mexico, the Associated Press reports.
Memos seen by the AP show this program applies to immigrants both at and outside legal ports of entry. Some demographics—including pregnant women, LGBT migrants, children traveling alone, and people suffering medical issues—are exempt from the “Remain in Mexico” program and instead go through the traditional asylum process from the U.S.
The decision to specifically target Spanish speakers is reminiscent of President Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting many majority Muslim countries, Judy Rabinovitz, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, told the AP.
“We know they are trying to get at Central American asylum seekers but to see it written there so blatantly is so disturbing,” she said.
According to the AP, Mexican officials have asked no more than 20 asylum seekers are to be returned each day (Monday through Saturday) from San Diego to Tijuana, limiting U.S. border officials’ attempts to manage the increasing number of Central Americans seeking to cross the border.
More than 76,000 immigrants crossed the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization in February, the New York Times reports, marking an 11-year high. Trump has been clear in his aim to limit the number of migrants entering the U.S.—most pointedly in his push for a border wall—and has long vilified Central American immigrants.