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June 18, 2018

The Trump Administration is Putting Up a "No Vacancy" Sign

Reports from across the U.S.-Mexico border show that border agents are once again illegally turning away families seeking protection. Our report, Crossing The Line, exposed this practice in May of 2017. New evidence shows that over the last several months, border agents have begun standing in the middle of international bridges to physically block people from crossing into the United States. They are telling families—who have traveled thousands of miles—that there is no room for them, and that they will have to wait or return home. At some crossings, applicants camp out for weeks before they are able to request protection.

A message is being broadcast across the nation that migrants should be seeking asylum through official channels—at official border “points of entry.” But the Trump Administration is making it impossible. When people do arrive at an official border crossing to request asylum—following the law to a T—they are being turned away. It’s the equivalent of a “no vacancy” sign over the Rio Grande.
 
What's a family to do? They cannot go back to their home countries, where many are fleeing from death threats. The Trump Administration is blocking access to asylum in every way it can, forcing families to make impossible choices—wait and sleep on pizza boxes on the bridge for weeks, or go back home.
  • The Berduo family—fleeing from gang threats—traveled nearly 2,000 miles to seek asylum in the U.S., but officials said that they could go no further. They were told that the holding facilities were “at capacity” despite the fact that only 10-15 people were present on the bridge each day.
  • Serbando Pineda Hernandez and his 15-year-old son Riquelmer waited on a bridge to request asylum for more than 9 days. They slept on the streets of Ciudad Juarez after being told that there was no room for them.
  • Three Guatemalan migrants—a badly sunburned woman, her baby, and a 16-year-old girl, were physically prevented from requesting asylum. They were blocked by agents from stepping on the United States side of the bridge and requesting protection.
  • Carolina Cortez and her two children slept on the ground for two weeks in their effort to seek their legal right to asylum. They slept on cardboard pizza boxes and were forced to depend on strangers for their survival. “I wanted to do everything legally,” she said, “but this is a setback I did not expect.”
  • Marco Estrada and his two-year-old daughter waited for more than nine days to request protection. “We heard if you cross in the river they will separate you from your family,” they said. “That’s why we came on the bridge.” And yet, they were forced to wait and told to come back another day.
These are people who are trying to seek asylum at an official border entry point. Yet, agents at the bridge tell them to come back when there is capacity. Where are they expected to go until then? Mexico isn't safe for them.
 
The Trump Administration is sending a message: we won’t protect you. So give up and go home, no matter how dangerous it is for you.