EL PASO, Texas – The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the ACLU Border Rights Center today filed a complaint with the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security. It demands an end to U.S. Customs and Border Protections' turning away asylum seekers at ports of entry, a practice also known as “metering.” The ACLU calls for an urgent investigation into the policy, especially as it applies to Mexican nationals.
The letter provides examples of Mexican migrants seeking to escape violence who have been denied entry to the U.S. by CBP officials. Among the reasons given by agency officials: a lack of space, the requirement of “valid entry documents,” and that asylum is no longer available. The migrants detailed the dangerous and unsanitary conditions they face in tent encampments or on the street in Juarez and Matamoros, Mexico after being turned away. The letter asserts that the return of these migrants to Mexico violates U.S. and international asylum laws, as well as the agency’s own standards. It cites a survey that indicates approximately 11,000 people – more than half – of those forced to wait indefinitely in Mexico to seek asylum identify as Mexican nationals.
The ACLU argues this situation requires the OIG to exercise oversight over CBP, which has yet to provide any data to back its lack-of-capacity claims or comply with its obligation to process Mexican asylum seekers.
“Our decades long commitment to asylum is being flagrantly disobeyed by an administration intent on stopping any migration to the U.S.,” said Andre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas. “By turning away people seeking refuge, CBP continues its practice of ignoring threats to human safety and refusing to follow the basic premise of asylum law. We demand CBP end its metering policy for all asylum seekers, especially those Mexican nationals returned to the very country from which they fled.”