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Groups Sue Mexico, Seek to Stop Mass Removal of Migrants

FILE - Unaccompanied Guatemalan children who were deported by plane from Mexico arrive at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City, Aug. 26, 2021, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Four migrant defense groups in Mexico announced Wednesday that they had sought court injunctions to block what they called "massive" deportations, arguing the government was violating due process and Mexican and international law governing asylum.

The groups said one legal action was filed September 3 in the southeastern state of Tabasco and another in Mexico City.

The groups contend the government is acting illegally by expelling migrants "before dawn and at unestablished [border] points" and also by participating in chain expulsions of migrants first flown from the U.S. to southern Mexico and then carried over land by Mexican officials to the border with Guatemala. The migrants are not told of the possibility of seeking protection in Mexico, the groups said.

The migrants expelled from the United States are removed under so-called Title 42 authority, a health provision enacted during the Trump administration with the justification of the COVID-19 pandemic but continued under the Biden administration.

Flights, then busing

Most recently, the U.S. has been flying non-Mexican migrants to airports in Mexico's southern states of Chiapas and Tabasco. Mexican immigration authorities then bus them to the Guatemala border, even though many of them are not Guatemalan. In August, there were 34 such flights. U.N. agencies have expressed concern as well.

The four organizations — Asylum Access, the Foundation for Justice, Without Borders and the Institute for Women in Migration — argue that the expulsions violate the ban on removing people with international protection needs and and that they don't take into account the higher interest of children or the perspective of gender.

In recent days, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has insisted Mexico respects the rights of migrants. The government has been criticized over sometimes violent clashes with migrants trying to walk north from the southern city of Tapachula.

The president has said simply containing migrants in southern Mexico is not sustainable and sent a letter this week to U.S. President Joe Biden insisting the U.S. do more to address the root causes of migration in the region.