This month’s media report focuses on the asylum system in the U.S., with stories about asylum law violations, long waiting periods at ports of entry, and heart-wrenching deportation decisions faced by reunited families.
- Violations of Asylum Law: Attorney General Sessions’ recent announcement that domestic and gang violence will no longer be considered grounds for asylum is the latest in an ongoing rollback of asylum seeker rights in the U.S. This opinion piece discusses the “gutting of our asylum system,” and itemizes violations of well-established asylum law—both federal and international—when asylum seekers are turned away at ports of entry, prosecuted for entering the country, discouraged from pursuing their claims, and separated from their children. The result has been a drastic reduction in approved claims since 2012, and unconscionable deportations of people back to dangerous, even life-threatening, situations: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/11/opinion/asylum-immigration-trump.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region®ion=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region.
- Waiting at the Border: In the past couple of months, makeshift encampments of individuals and families waiting to apply for asylum have cropped up near ports of entry along the U.S.–Mexico border. At the Nogales port of entry, the wait has been as long as two weeks. In response, over the course of this summer, KBI set up an ad hoc shelter for dozens of asylum-seeking families. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) claims the issue is capacity, but against a backdrop of increasing limitations on asylum claims, human rights and immigrant advocates see the delays as part of a system that is unfriendly to asylum seekers. While processing in Nogales has sped up in recent weeks and KBI is no longer running an additional shelter, concerns remain about how CBP has deprioritized their legal obligation to process asylum seekers: http://latinousa.org/2018/07/31/theportofentry/.
- Parents Pressured to Waive Rights: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has learned that, among the thousands of parents separated from their children at the U.S.–Mexico border in recent months, many unwittingly signed away their right to reunification. With little explanation, limited or no understanding of English, and under great duress, migrant and asylum-seeking parents were coerced into signing legal documents they thought would do just the opposite—allow them to see their children again. As part of a class-action lawsuit over family separation, these experiences are outlined in an ACLU court filing requesting that reunited families be permitted to remain in the U.S. before deportation in order to seek legal counsel and make the critical decision to be deported together or to leave their children behind to pursue asylum: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/07/26/migrant-parents-were-mislead-into-waiving-rights-to-family-reunification-aclu-tells-court/?utm_term=.68ebce1e6da9.