Media Contact

Matt Levin, ACLU of Texas, 772-529-4365, media@aclutx.org

January 27, 2021

HOUSTON — The ACLU of Texas and the national ACLU are calling on President Biden to end the immigration policy known as Prompt Asylum Claim Review and the Humanitarian Asylum Review Process.

The ask comes as the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a new report documenting the number of people removed from the U.S. without an immigration hearing under PACR/HARP.

Under this policy, people seeking asylum are held — for the first time — in Customs and Border Protection facilities during their credible fear interview without access to legal counsel. This is the first stage of the asylum process for those subjected to expedited removal that determines whether a person can stay and seek protection in the United States or will be sent back to the country from which they fled.

More than 5,000 people have been processed through the policy. Prior to its implementation, 74 percent of people passed their credible fear interview and were allowed to continue to seek asylum. The report shows that only 23 percent of people subjected to this policy passed the same interview. CBP facilities are known for their horrendous conditions, including freezing temperatures and filthy cells. There, people, including children, are held virtually incommunicado, are forced to sleep on the floor, and are not provided enough food. These facilities are designed to hold people for short periods. The report found, however, that individuals placed in PACR/HARP were held by CBP on average for nearly two weeks.

Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas, had this reaction:

“This report proves what we have warned from the start — that CBP jails are utterly unsuitable for this high-stakes process and that asylum seekers forced to go through the Trump administration’s pilot programs do not and will not have a meaningful opportunity to truly seek asylum in the United States. Immigrants deserve due process, and yet CBP jails are effectively legal black holes, where no attorney, and in fact no outsider at all, can enter and telephone access is also severely limited. If these programs are allowed to continue, thousands of more lives will be at risk of danger and possible death. This inhumane policy must end, and President Biden can do so with the stroke of a pen.”

The ACLU of Texas and the national ACLU are currently challenging this policy in court.