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Immigrant Rights Advocates Urge Court to Permanently End Trump-Era Policy that Turned Back Tens of Thousands of Asylum Seekers

San Diego, CA – Immigrant rights advocates released the following statement after presenting oral arguments before U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant of the Southern District of California, where they urged the court to declare unlawful and permanently end the Trump-era turnback policy. Under the policy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the country’s largest federal law enforcement agency, falsely claimed they did not have capacity to process asylum seekers at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border as a pretext for denying refugees access to protection in the United States.
“This case marks a particularly shameful page in this nation’s history. Rather than welcoming those fleeing persecution at its front door as this country has done for generations, the U.S. government engaged in institutionalized lying and denied asylum seekers access to the nation’s asylum system. It is time for this dark chapter of our history to end.”
The case, Al Otro Lado v. Mayorkas, was brought by Al Otro Lado, a bi-national advocacy and legal aid organization, and a group of 13 individuals seeking asylum in the United States whom CBP turned away at ports of entry along the southern border through metering and other tactics. They are represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Southern Poverty Law Center, American Immigration Council, and the law firm Mayer Brown.
In briefs filed ahead of the hearing, the plaintiffs’ attorneys argue that U.S. law, the Constitution, and international legal principles require that asylum seekers be inspected and processed when they are arriving at ports of entry. The motion also emphasizes that asylum seekers have been seriously injured, raped, and even killed after CBP officers turned them back to Mexico.