Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Kate Centellas

Relational Format



On December 20, 2018 the Trump administration released a statement announcing the signing of an executive order implementing a new asylum program called the Migrant Protection Protocols. Under this legislation, third party nationals arriving at the United States’ southwestern border seeking asylum would be forced to remain in Mexico throughout the processing of their asylum application. This new protocol promised to limit false asylum cases and streamline meritorious applications while preventing migrants from exploiting loopholes in the former asylum system. However, critics argue that the Migrant Protection Protocols further endanger refugees and infringe on their human rights. This study aims to answer whether the Migrant Protection Protocols violates the United States’ international obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention by identifying a causational relationship between this legislation and the violation of two human rights: due process through legal representation and non refoulement. The Migrant Protection Protocols is also evaluated as an extension of the Prevention through Deterrence immigration strategy utilized by the United States since the mid-1990s. I seek to establish a normative trend of human rights violations under this legislation using two databases, the TRAC database on MPP court proceedings and the Human Rights First database on publicly reported cases of violent attacks on individuals returned to Mexico under the “Migrant Protection Protocols.” From there, I use a combination of testimonial data collected from human rights advocates, lawsuit transcripts, and newspapers to emphasize the individual impact of these human rights violations on refugees and their families placed under the Migrant Protection Protocols. The results indicate that the Migrant Protection Protocols clearly cause a gross violation of refugees’ human rights protected under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. This research reveals how a deterrence-based strategy used to handle incoming asylum seekers raises the human costs and serves as a recommendation for future administrations as to why the Prevention through Deterrence strategy should not be considered a solution to an overwhelmed asylum system.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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