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Rights of Asylum Seekers

We’re challenging Trump administration policies that have shredded the nation’s decades-old asylum system

The Trump administration has enacted policy after policy aimed at eviscerating the legal rights of people seeking asylum and creating the harshest conditions possible for them, with the stated goal of deterring others through the suffering of migrants who have already made the journey.

This war on asylum-seekers has created a humanitarian crisis.

Tens of thousands of people – many of them fleeing violence and persecution – have been stranded just across the border, often in squalid and dangerous conditions.

First, the administration implemented its “Turnback Policy,” under which people seeking protection who present themselves at official ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border are turned away, dramatically reducing the number who are inspected and processed. Many migrants, often entire families, have been forced to live for months in shelters or under makeshift conditions in Mexico.

In addition to creating an enormous backlog of people waiting to be processed, the chokehold at the border has led many desperate migrants to attempt to cross the border between ports of entry. In response, the administration sought to implement a rule making it illegal for those entering between ports of entry to apply for asylum.

After the SPLC and its partners successfully blocked the implementation of that rule (through a court decision that the government has appealed), the administration implemented the “Remain in Mexico” policy. Under this policy, after migrants have waited across the border and are finally able to present themselves for processing, they are returned to Mexico to await their immigration court hearings. By trapping them across the border, the administration is making it as difficult as possible for them to exercise their legal rights – and it has orchestrated this crisis to keep the suffering out of sight of the American public.

Most recently, the administration announced another rule that renders migrants who enter the United States through the southern border ineligible for asylum unless they applied for and were denied asylum in at least one country they passed through on their journey. This rule, which is currently in effect, prevents virtually all Central Americans and other non-Mexicans who cross the U.S.-Mexico border from obtaining asylum in the United States.

By sabotaging the asylum system, President Trump has made a mockery of the United States’ international reputation as a country that respects human rights and the rule of law.

With our partners, we have filed a series of lawsuits challenging this administration’s illegal and inhumane assault on asylum-seekers. And we’re determined to continue fighting to uphold the law and protect the rights of those who seek refuge in our country.

Immigrant Stories

Beyond the Border 

Beyond the Border – A Diary of Photos

No Way Out - Tales from the Border 

Our Cases

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, et al. v. William Barr, et al.

Innovation Law Lab, et al. v. McAleenan, et al.

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al.

Al Otro Lado, Inc., et al. v. McAleenan et al.