U.S. asylum seekers returned to Mexico despite fear claims under policy challenged in court

  • In US
  • 2019-03-22 21:30:53Z
  • By By Dan Levine and Lizbeth Diaz
FILE PHOTO: Migrants from Central America are seen escorted by U.
FILE PHOTO: Migrants from Central America are seen escorted by U.  

By Dan Levine and Lizbeth Diaz

SAN FRANCISCO/TIJUANA (Reuters) - Two people from Central America seeking asylum in the United States were sent back across the border to Mexico on Thursday, despite their claims that a return to Mexico was too dangerous, as part of the first test of a controversial new Trump administration policy.

The returns came as a U.S. federal judge in San Francisco on Friday heard legal arguments on whether or not to halt the policy, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which was rolled out in late January.

The major policy shift is based on a decades-old law that says migrants who enter from a contiguous country can be returned there to wait as their deportation cases move forward. But this provision had never been used for these types of returns before.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups have sued, saying that migrants are being returned to dangerous border towns where they cannot access legal counsel or get proper notice of their hearings.

Two migrants from Honduras tried to make the case to U.S. asylum officers that Mexico was too dangerous for their return, according to their lawyer Robyn Barnard from the nonprofit group Human Rights First. But on Thursday evening, after being held in custody for two days, they were sent back across the border.

A third migrant, 35-year-old Douglas Oviedo from Honduras, said he was interviewed by authorities and returned to Tijuana on Tuesday. They are among the first to test the process of claiming a fear of returning to Mexico.

Asylum seekers typically undergo what is known as a "credible fear" interview to assess their eligibility for a court process. But the standard of proof for a "reasonable fear" of being returned to Mexico is much stiffer.

Barnard said one client, 19-year-old Ariel, who asked to be identified only by his middle name, broke down in tears during the interview with U.S. officials, which lasted several hours.

Another client, a 29-year-old man who said he was an evangelical leader who fled Honduras because of threats over his anti-gang activity, was also sent back, Barnard said.

More than 200 people have been returned to Mexico so far under the MPP, which is now in place at the San Ysidro and Calexico ports of entry in California and the El Paso, Texas, port of entry and to migrants who ask for asylum between ports of entry in the San Diego area, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

That is a small portion of the tens of thousands of migrants mostly from Central American who have tried to enter the United States and claim asylum in recent months.

The U.S. government has said the policy is necessary to stem the ballooning number of asylum claims, many of which are ultimately denied, because migrants can end up living in the United States for years due to huge immigration court backlogs.

DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment on their cases. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which conducts asylum interviews said it cannot comment on individual cases because confidentiality rules apply.

"A lot is still unknown, I haven't been given any written reasons or determinations for their return," Barnard said.

Lawyers for the rights groups and for the government argued over the technical aspects of the policy on Friday in front of U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg. He asked a series of detailed questions about whether the Trump administration had discretion to implement the policy. Seeborg also wondered how broadly of an injunction he could issue and whether any stop to the policy should apply nationally. He is expected to rule on the case in a written decision.

(Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco and Lizbeth Diaz in Tijuana; Additional reporting and writing by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Leslie Adler)


More Related News

San Francisco first major US city to ban e-cigarette sales
San Francisco first major US city to ban e-cigarette sales

San Francisco on Tuesday became the first major US city to effectively ban the sale and manufacture of electronic cigarettes. The city's legislature unanimously approved an ordinance which backers said was necessary due to the "significant public health consequences" of a "dramatic surge" in vaping among youths. The ordinance says e-cigarette products sold in shops or online in San Francisco would need approval by federal health authorities, which none currently has.

Mexico says it has deployed 15,000 forces in the north to halt U.S.-bound migration
Mexico says it has deployed 15,000 forces in the north to halt U.S.-bound migration
  • US
  • 2019-06-24 23:40:41Z

Mexico has deployed almost 15,000 soldiers and National Guard in the north of the country to stem the flow of illegal immigration across the border into the United States, the head of the Mexican Army said on Monday. Mexico has not traditionally used security forces to stop undocumented foreign citizens

Locastro wins it, D-backs end six-game losing streak
Locastro wins it, D-backs end six-game losing streak

Tim Locastro's single with the bases loaded in the 10th inning gave the Arizona Diamondbacks a 3-2 win over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday. Locastro's line drive to left field scored Nick Ahmed and helped the Diamondbacks end a season-long six-game losing streak. Giants reliever Mark Melancon

Mexico officials detain more migrants as crackdown steps up
Mexico officials detain more migrants as crackdown steps up

Authorities reinforced efforts over the weekend to deter Central Americans and others from crossing Mexico to reach the United States, detaining migrants in the south and stationing National Guardsmen along the Rio Grande in the north. In Arriaga, a town in the southern state of Chiapas, The Associated Press saw about 100 migrants bused to detention Sunday, while Milenio TV reported that 146 more were pulled from a private home in the central state of Queretaro and more than 100 were taken away from a hotel in the Gulf state of Veracruz. Pressured by the U.S., Mexico's government has deployed some 6,000 agents of the National Guard, its new militarized policing force, along its southern...

Migrants describe overcrowded Mexican detention centers as Trump ratchets up pressure
Migrants describe overcrowded Mexican detention centers as Trump ratchets up pressure
  • US
  • 2019-06-23 11:14:18Z

Mexico's immigration centers are becoming increasingly squalid and overcrowded as authorities step up the detention of migrants headed for the United States, with inmates languishing for weeks amid medical neglect, according to detainees, lawyers and rights groups. Reuters spoke to more than a dozen recent detainees at the Siglo XXI detention center, the country's largest. The detainees reported severe overcrowding, sparse water and food, and limited healthcare.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: US

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.