We have had several clients over the past few years who were caught attempting to cross the Mexican border and prevented from claiming asylum by aggressive tactics of U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") officers. While we never recommend attempting to enter the United States without inspection, individuals who are encountered crossing the border or inside the United States generally have a right to a "credible fear" interview, which typically leads to them being able to bring an asylum claim in Immigration Court.
Fortunately, yesterday, the American Immigration Council and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit challenging this practice. Here is one example from the lawsuit about CBP tactics:
One of the individual plaintiffs in the lawsuit is an asylum seeker from Honduras who fled with her daughter after they were threatened by a notorious gang and raped repeatedly in front of each other. The mother and daughter tried to seek asylum in the United States on three separate occasions at a POE in Tijuana, Mexico, but were denied access to the asylum process by CBP officers each time.
The first time, CBP officers misrepresented that there was no more asylum in the United States. The second time, CBP officers misrepresented that there was no more asylum in the United States for Central Americans and threatened the mother that if she came back to the POE, she and her daughter would be handed over to Mexican authorities and deported to Honduras. The third time, CBP officers separated the mother from her daughter by force and told the mother that she could proceed but would have to leave her daughter behind. When the individual plaintiff refused, she and her daughter were escorted out of the port.
Hopefully, this lawsuit will lead to necessary reforms at the border for how asylum-seekers are treated by CBP. Read more about the lawsuit here.