A recent lawsuit filed by Al Otro Lado Inc., a legal services group for immigrants, accuses US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials of refusing to allow asylum seekers entry in the U.S. According to the lawsuit, CBP officials are using threats, lies, intimidation, and coercion to prevent immigrants from applying for asylum.
The plaintiffs’ claims of CBP denying asylum seekers are supported by other organizations, including Human Rights First (2), Amnesty International, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and more. These reports state that CBP is violating both U.S. and international human rights law with their practices. Officials have misinformed individuals applying for asylum by telling them that “Donald Trump just signed new laws saying there is no asylum for anyone,” and threatening to separate them from their children if they don’t abandon their asylum claims. By preventing entry into the states, many are being forced to return to the dangerous countries they were trying to escape from.
Abigail Doe, one of the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit, is a mother of two who escaped from Mexico only to be denied asylum. When she arrived at the San Ysidro Port of Entry (POE), CBP officials coerced her into withdrawing her application for admission. They were forced to return to Tijuana and now live under fear of the cartel (who previously targeted her husband). A second plaintiff, Dinora Doe, fled to Tijuana with her daughter to avoid gang members that had targeted, threatened, and repeatedly raped the two. They attempted to apply for asylum in the Otay Mesa POE three different times, but officials also prevented her from applying for asylum. D.D. and her daughter were forced to return to Tijuana.
A second plaintiff, Dinora Doe, fled to Tijuana with her daughter to avoid gang members that had targeted, threatened, and repeatedly raped the two. They attempted to apply for asylum in the Otay Mesa POE three different times, but officials also prevented her from applying for asylum. D.D. and her daughter were forced to return to Tijuana.
There are five other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, not including Al Otro Lado: Beatrice Doe, Carolina Doe, Ingrid Doe, and Jose Doe. These individuals all face similar situations where they live under fear of persecution from drug cartels or gang members in Mexico but were still denied access to the asylum process. Many advocacy groups have fought for awareness of the CBP illegal conduct, but the lawsuit hopefully represents a new step forward.
“Instead of pushing people to their likely death, the USA must override its Border Security Executive Order and go back to the drawing board when it comes to immigration enforcement.” – Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International
Read the full lawsuit here.