Later On

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‘No Asylum Here’: Some Say U.S. Border Agents Rejected Them—Illegally

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Caitlin Dickerson and Miriam Jordan report in the NY Times on how the US Border Patrol operates:

By the time Francisca, Armando and their two surviving children made it to the United States border in late February, they were hungry, exhausted and virtually penniless. But the couple, who said that a son had been killed by a gang back in El Salvador and that their daughter had nearly been raped, thought they had finally reached safety.

Under United States and international law, all people who ask for asylum are supposed to be allowed into the country to plead their case. But instead, they said, a Customs and Border Protection agent shooed them away.

“There is no asylum here,” Francisca, 32, recalled the agent telling them. “We are not granting asylum.”

Customs agents have increasingly turned away asylum seekers without so much as an interview, according to migrants and their lawyers, in a trend first noted several months ago and that appeared to accelerate after President Trump’s inauguration. That has left an untold number of migrants trapped in Mexico, where they have sometimes fallen prey to kidnappers seeking ransom or been driven into the hands of drug cartels and smugglers. Some have tried to enter the United States illegally and dangerously, through the desert or across the Rio Grande, a risky journey.

“By rejecting asylum seekers at its borders, the United States is turning them away to face danger, persecution, torture, kidnappings and potential trafficking in Mexico,” Human Rights First, an organization that has studied the problem, said in a report released on Wednesday.

No hard data exists on how often customs agents prevented asylum seekers from entering the United States, but many do make it past the border gates. Human Rights First said it had documented 125 people or families from countries including Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Turkey who were turned away at entry points in Arizona, California and Texas from November to April. The organization said the actual number was likely to be far higher, since most of the migrants never make contact with a lawyer or an American advocate.

In response to questions, Customs and Border Protection said that the United States adhered to international law and convention permitting people to seek asylum on the grounds that they were being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, political belief or other factors.

“If an officer or agent encounters a U.S.-bound migrant without legal papers and the person expresses fear of being returned to his/her home country, our officers process them for an interview with an asylum officer,” the agency said in a statement.

The Trump administration has not ordered customs agents to turn away asylum seekers. But the president has made it clear he believes the asylum system in its current form contributes to the problem of illegal immigration. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 May 2017 at 10:05 am

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