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May 03, 2017

Crossing the Line: U.S. Border Agents Illegally Reject Asylum Seekers

The U.S. government is illegally turning away asylum seekers at official land crossings all along the southern border. Border agents must refer a person seeking asylum or expressing a fear of persecution to a protection screening interview or an immigration court proceeding where they can seek asylum. Instead, some border agents are blocking access to asylum by refusing to process protection requests. This practice violates both U.S. law and U.S. treaty obligations. It also clashes with the ideals of a nation that has often led globally on refugee protection, a nation that President Reagan aptly described as a “beacon” to people searching for freedom.

U.S. government entities have raised concerns about the treatment of asylum seekers. In 2016, for example, the bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) cited some Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers’ “outright skepticism, if not hostility, toward asylum claims and inadequate quality assurance procedures.” Also in 2016 Human Rights First and other non-governmental organizations raised concerns about reports that the government was turning away asylum seekers in San Ysidro, California as CPB officers struggled to manage an increase in arrivals.

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