Former asylum officer on devastating effects of ‘remain in Mexico’ policy: Part 2

Thousands of migrants are exposed to a high risk of violence and human trafficking in makeshift camps. Former asylum officer Douglas Stevens speaks to “Nightline” about why he resigned from his post.
7:11 | 12/18/19

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Transcript for Former asylum officer on devastating effects of ‘remain in Mexico’ policy: Part 2
Along the border, the scale of human misery is staggering. More than 60,000 people awaiting asylum. Among them melissa and her family. She's five months pregnant and forced to "Remain in Mexico," under a new trump administration policy. Melissa's been waiting in this makeshift camp with her husband and 9-year-old daughter for three months. Across the rio grande, jodi goodwin is among those fighting for asylum seekers. On this morning, she's trying to win freedom for a Venezuelan family. The father was detained and tortured for his political beliefs. Good win says before, the case would have sailed through. Now she says the family is being stone walled. I'm like, what the hell? Why can't you guys read your own law, and why can't you actually use some common sense? Reporter: Finally, the family from Venezuela wins a rare asylum grant. Oh, my god! Oh, my god. Welcome to the United States. Thank you, thank you. Reporter: Jodi's clients are the exception to the rule. These are hard cases to win even harder without a lawyer. Out of all mpp cases recorded so far, less than three percent had legal counsel. What's the point of the overall policy? I think the point is, um, to end, uh, asylum in the us. It's a strategy that's rolled out by white nationals that are controlling the immigration agenda in the whitehouse right now. The endgame is to keep brown people out. Reporter: Douglas stevens couldn't agree more. The former asylum officer resigned in protest after the new "Remain in Mexico" policy began gnawing at his conscience/ Did you set out to be a whistleblower? I did not. That was never my intent. I kinda knew that by refusing to do this I was marking myself as somebody that wasn't going to blindly follow orders. Ultimately, I felt like I could not continue doing this interviews. You wouldn't just follow I -- I couldn't. Reporter: An immigration lawyer by training. His job was to listen to horrifying stories and decide peoples' fate. Before quitting, he sent a detailed memo -- pointing out why he feels the migrant protection protocols or mpp are both immoral and illegal writing "The mpp both discriminates and penalizes." But his former boss's boss ken cucinnelli couldn't disagree more. Well, first of all, it's rather blatantly legal. Congress gave us the authority and it says explicitly in the statute to have people wait in a contiguous country. That's the language of the statute. Why would mpp be in violation of -- the international treaty? A fundamental part of international law. Essentially says that you cannot send someone back to a country or -- anywhere -- where it's more likely than not that they would be harmed or persecuted. It's a very fundamental, basic rule. And that dates back to the holocaust. Yes, yes it does. Reporter: There's plenty of danger in these border areas known as the "Disappearance capital of Mexico" the cartels profit from sex trafficking, smuggling humans. This crisis -- for them-- is a business opportunity. Because of extensive drug cartel activity, this area of matamor is considered by the u.s. State department a level 4 threat, it's as dangerous as North Korea or Afghanistan. And yet that's exactly where they're sending back vulnerable, pregnant women and children. Human rights groups have documented more than 600 incidents of rape, kidnapping, torture and assault in the year since the policy has I know what the country conditions say. They are at extremely high risk of violence --of kidnapping, of extortion. I know, because I've heard stories from them or from other asylum officers. People are disappearing, also. So I have no doubt that --that that's probably happened to -- to some of the people that I sent back. That still haunts you. It does. Reporter: Have you been to matamoros? No. Have you been to any of that? I've not been into Mexico. Does it ever weigh on you that these people who you give court dates to simply disappear? Because you know there's human trafficking. You know there's kidnapping and The stories that weigh on me are, for instance, one of our volunteers encountered a seven year old girl who'd been across the border six times. I worry about that 7 year old I worry about the other children being used in this process. I want to stop this process. And that's what we're trying to do. That's our goal. Reporter: After months of waiting -- a small victory -- melissa -- who's now six months pregnant -- and her family -- are allowed into the united States where their asylum claim will be heard. As I understand it, what's happening right now is that the Mexican government is not accepting pregnant women into the remain in Mexico program following their court hearings. Reporter: They made their way to Ohio, relying on the kindness of strangers. Reporter: Her sister has taken them in -- this is day three on American soil. What was it like after you reunited with your sister? What was it like to shower and sleep in a bed? After all those months? What's the American dream for you? Reporter: This is making you emotional, why? Reporter: We'll be right back. It's how we bring real hope to our cancer patients- like Viola. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, her team at ctca created a personalized care plan that treated her cancer and strengthened her spirit.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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