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Immigration Groups Allege U.S. Border Patrol and Customs Illegally Turns Away Latino Asylum Seekers

Photo courtesy of PBS.

Summary: A new lawsuit alleges that border control agents turn away legitimate asylum-seeking refugees. 

President Donald Trump made good on his election promise to crack down on immigration from Mexico, but now immigration rights organizations are fighting back. On Wednesday, the groups filed a class-action lawsuit against the federal government, stating that Border Control and Customs illegally blocks the entry of asylum-eligible refugees at the border.

  
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“The stories that drive Latino citizens to seek asylum in the United States are dark, often riddled with death threats from drug cartels, gangs and corrupt law enforcement officials. But the cruelty these families have faced from U.S. border officials at the U.S.-Mexico border in the past year have become equally cruel,” The San Antonio Current reported.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers systemically deny asylum to hundreds of immigrants who are escaping terror from their home country, the publication said.

“Asylum seekers…have fled persecution, violence and death, and face grave and immediate danger to their lives if denied access to the asylum process — a system specifically designed to protect refugees like them,” the complaint stated.

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The lawsuit was filed in California by the American Immigration Council and Council for Constitutional Rights, and they said that Customs and Border Patrol break international human rights law as well as federal laws prohibiting the rejection of legitimate refugees.

“The government’s flagrant violations of the law fly in the face of our country’s history of providing refuge to victims of persecution,” said Melissa Crow, Legal Director of the American Immigration Council. “The shameless tactics used by CBP illustrate the agency’s disregard for the legal protections afforded asylum seekers. We can and must do better.”



The lawsuit said that border patrol agents are not allowed to pick and choose who receives asylum and that they are violating the Immigration and Nationality Act, which gives noncitizens who arrived in the U.S. the right to submit an application for asylum.

“CBP officials themselves are not authorized to evaluate, grant or reject an individual’s asylum claim,” the suit said. It’s the job of an asylum official, not a border patrol agent to decides if an asylum-seekers fear is credible.”

As evidence, the attorneys submitted several anecdotal stories about immigrants from Mexico or other South American countries who were forced to leave their home lands to escape crime or terror. Many of those listed said that they had arrived at the border and told by agents that they did not qualify for asylum and that if they did not leave they would be thrown in jail.

The lawsuit said that the agents did not have the right to decide who gets turned away, and it alleged that border patrol agents gave false information to refugees that Donald Trump did not give asylum to anyone anymore.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a statement on Wednesday that the CBP’s practices have not changed in the way that they handle asylum claims, even though immigration attorneys across the country said that a lot has changed since Trump has taken office.

“Migrants fleeing violence and persecution have the fundamental right to seek asylum in the United States under both U.S. and international law,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director Baher Azmy. “Given these systematic violations, which are occurring in the midst of the Trump administration’s broader attacks on immigrants, the courts must take on their duty and order the administration simply to follow the law.”

What do you think of the recent lawsuit? Let us know in the comments below.



 

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