Women’s Refugee Commission Supports American Immigration Council’s Lawsuit Challenging CBP Turnbacks

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Washington, DC - This afternoon, the American Immigration Council (AIC), the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Lantham and Watkins, LLP filed a class action lawsuit against the Trump Administration, challenging Customs and Border Patrol’s (CBP) unlawful practice of turning back asylum seekers who present themselves at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border. The term “turnback” describes a situation in which CBP officials refuse to allow individuals, who present themselves at ports of entry along the U.S. southern border and assert their intention to apply for asylum or a fear of returning to their home countries, to seek protection in the United States. These asylum seekers are refused entry and access to our protection system and forced or left with no other option other than to exit the port area, returning to Mexico where their lives are in danger. These actions are illegal: under U.S. law and U.S. obligations under international law, arriving persons with protection needs must be provided access to a protection mechanism and may not be turned away at the border for any reason.

Leah Chavla, Program Officer at the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), reacted to the lawsuit with the following statement:

“The Women’s Refugee Commission has long highlighted problems with CBP’s treatment of vulnerable migrants with whom it comes into contact and has also extensively documented the issue of turnbacks, through its own visits to the border in the first part of the year. Turnbacks place asylum seekers, including women and children, in an extremely vulnerable situation, where they are exposed to persecution, higher risks of sexual and gender based violence, abductions and extortion, other exploitation, and potentially human trafficking. WRC firmly supports the Plaintiffs’ pursuit of justice and hopes this lawsuit will help bring greater oversight and accountability to CBP’s the inspection and processing of asylum seekers at the border. WRC stands alongside AIC in their challenge of CBP’s turnback policies.”

To read the filed complaint, see here.