EL PASO — In response to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials using illegal policies to delay or restrict individuals from seeking asylum, the ACLU Border Rights Center launched a program to document abuses at ports of entry. Trained volunteers are monitoring CBP officials’ interactions with people arriving at bridges as well as interviewing asylum seekers about their experience at ports of entry.
Under U.S. and international law, asylum seekers have a right to seek asylum at U.S. ports of entry. At a minimum, any newly arrived immigrant who expresses fear of return to their home county must be given a screening interview with an asylum officer to determine whether they have a “credible fear of persecution.”
“CBP’s ongoing violations of the law will not be ignored,” said Cynthia Pompa, advocacy manager for the ACLU Border Rights Center. “Parents and children who are presenting at our Ports of Entry to seek asylum are being forced to sleep on the international bridges for days, and sometimes weeks in other ports of entry, when CBP has the resources and is required by law to do so. That is why we are training and organizing volunteers to monitor CBP’s actions at ports of entry to hold them accountable for their ongoing unlawful attempts to restrict access or outright deny those seeking protection at our ports.”
An initial round of 25 volunteers have now completed training and will begin documentation at the Paso del Norte International Bridge. The Port of Entry Abuse Documentation Program started in El Paso and will continue along the U.S.-Mexico border. Individuals are encouraged to volunteer.