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Hamed Aleaziz of BuzzFeed shines a light on the continued human rights atrocity happening on our border, exacerbated by the new finding that, “US Border Officials Are Issuing Fake Court Notices To Keep Out Immigrants Who Have Won Asylum.” Hamed details that “at least four people have been sent back to Mexico after being granted asylum” in recent weeks. The reporting matches some of the findings of the recent report by Human Rights First released last week.
As the BuzzFeed piece notes, the revelations are at odds with the recent claims of Trump administration officials: “On Monday, acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan was asked during a press conference about immigrants being returned to Mexico after winning their asylum cases. He appeared confused, saying, ‘That shouldn’t be happening.’”
Pili Tobar, Deputy Director of America’s Voice said:
Trump and his cronies have once again crossed the line. The Trump administration does not want valid claims of asylum to ever reach the inside of a U.S. immigration court. And even when they do, they have rigged the court system to make it almost impossible to win, even for the most sympathetic claims. Even for asylum seekers who have overcome the long list of obstacles and been granted asylum by an immigration judge, the Trump administration is relying on tricks and deception — and outright lies to the American public — by sending people back to danger to wait outside the country. We should allow our asylum process to work as intended by lawmakers in Congress and in previous Democratic and Republican administrations. When asylum is granted, it should mean what it is under the law — that the asylee has a legitimate fear of persecution, should not be returned to danger, and should begin their life in safety in the U.S. This is an assault on the rule of law and any sense of due process and justice for people who are fleeing violence and asking for our help.
See below for key excerpts of the Hamed Aleaziz BuzzFeed story, “US Border Officials Are Issuing Fake Court Notices To Keep Out Immigrants Who Have Won Asylum”:
Francisco was one of more than 50,000 asylum-seekers forced to wait in Mexico under a controversial program from the Trump administration. His case had been working its way through the immigration courts. But he and his attorneys were optimistic that his long journey from Cuba toward protection in the US was nearly over.
…On Nov. 21, the decision from Tijerina came in: “IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Respondent’s application for asylum pursuant to Section 208 of the Act be GRANTED.”
But what happened next is what immigration advocates and attorneys say is a troubling and apparently new trend of US officials going out of their way, including issuing fake court date notices, in order to keep even those who have been granted asylum out of the country.
With his court order in hand, Francisco traveled four days later to the port of entry — the same place where he had first applied for asylum in July — with his attorney. He gave the 14-page document to a US Customs and Border Protection official and requested he be let in.
Instead, a border official took Francisco aside and gave him a notice for a nonexistent court hearing in January, according to one of his attorneys, Lisa Koop, associate director of legal services at the National Immigrant Justice Center. What’s more, Francisco would also have to wait in Mexico as Homeland Security officials used their allotted 30-day window to decide whether to appeal his case.
Francisco, who requested his full name not be used due to his tenuous life in Mexico, is not alone. Koop said that in recent weeks at least three other individuals, all Venezuelan, have also been denied the opportunity to remain in the US after being granted asylum. All were in the Migrant Protection Protocols, the Trump administration policy that keeps asylum-seekers in Mexico as their immigration cases proceed. All three individuals — one an adult man, the other two a mother and son — were granted asylum in Laredo but later taken back to Mexico, according to Koop.
…“The government’s behavior in this case and in other cases lays bare the true intent of MPP, which is quite simply to end asylum for all peoples in all circumstances,” Koop said. “This is a Cuban dissident who was granted asylum and is being kept out — it removes the ambiguity of what motives are behind this program.”
Immigration experts said the policy appeared to represent a new front in the effort to restrict asylum.
“It is an exercise in cruelty to send people who win asylum back to Mexico, forcing them to wait months or years for an appeal to work its way through the system,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy analyst at the American Immigration Council. “Because the person has no future court dates, CBP just invents fake ones.”