US border clampdown forces Venezuelan teen into Mexico alone

A Venezuelan teenager has been forced back to Mexico by United States government authorities who denied her claims that she was fleeing political repression and violence, even after they accepted the same claims from her father.

The teenager, who is being identified by only her first name, Branyerly, is living alone in Matamoros, Mexico, across from Brownsville. According to her lawyer, US border agents on Monday and Tuesday denied her requests not to be sent back under the Trump administration’s so-called “Remain in Mexico” programme for migrants.

Branyerly and her father could not request asylum under another Trump policy, a ban on most asylum claims at the southern border for people who came through a “third country”. But in January, an immigration judge allowed her father, Branly, into the US by granting what’s called withholding of removal, which requires meeting a higher legal standard.

That same judge denied withholding for Branyerly, who was 17 when she originally arrived at the border and is now 18. Both she and her father say the immigration judge, Monica Thompson Guidry, asked him most questions during the hearing and asked her relatively few. The final result came as a shock to both of them.

She tried to request parole on Monday at one of the bridges connecting Brownsville and Matamoros. She was taken into an office on the US side briefly, then told to return to Mexico.

“I already lived one nightmare in Venezuela and another here,” Branyerly said.

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