Congress Members Demand Probe of Fake Court Hearings That Sent Asylum-Seekers Back to Mexico
More than 50 members of Congress are calling for an investigation into reports of Customs and Border Protection officials issuing fake court hearing notices to bar asylum-seekers from entering the U.S. even after they’ve been granted asylum.
On Friday, Democratic Reps. Tony Cardenas and Lou Correa of California and Veronica Escobar of Texas led the coalition by sending a letter to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General asking for a “full and thorough” investigation.
“This type of behavior by a government agency is abhorrent, violates the rule of law, and is antithetical to our values and the very essence of what we stand for as a nation,” the letter states.
Members of Congress specifically want to know whether any DHS or CBP leaders authorized the use of fake court hearings to send migrants back to Mexico and request that should any officials be found criminally liable they should be held accountable.
Friday’s letter is only the latest of what is mounting pressure from lawmakers on the Migrant Protection Protocols program, also known as Remain in Mexico.
Under the program, asylum-seekers are forced to live in Mexico while their court cases are adjudicated in the United States. The Mexican government only agreed to accept returnees who have future court dates. However, CBP officials have given migrants whose asylum cases are already over documents with fake future court hearings and sent them back to Mexico anyway.
In November, Sen. Dianne Feinstein called for a hearing into CBP’s alleged practice of using fake court hearings to send asylum-seekers back to Mexico.
Feinstein, D-Calif., who described the practice as “highly concerning,” asked for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing before the end of this year.
The humanitarian organization is helping kids around the world, around the clock.
The senator specifically cited The San Diego Union-Tribune’s reporting on the issue when calling for a hearing.
On Nov. 7, the newspaper reported that on at least 14 occasions CBP officials wrote fake future court dates on immigration documents and sent asylum-seekers back to Mexico after an immigration judge had already made a decision on their cases.
At the time, CBP officials defended the practice by saying that the date on the sheet is not a future court hearing but rather a date in which asylum-seekers can check in on the status of an appeal. According to the agency’s explanation, the government had appealed an immigration judge’s decision and therefore the case wasn’t over and migrants could still be sent back to Mexico.
However, Mexican officials stressed that they only agreed to accept returnees with future court dates, not ones with open appeals. Additionally, immigration lawyers whose clients had been sent back to Mexico with false documents called CBP’s explanation “ridiculous” and “false.”
Specifically, lawyers noted that the documents themselves disprove CBP’s explanation because they make no mention of the appeal process while specifically saying, “At your last court appearance, an immigration judge ordered you to return to court for another hearing.”
Since then, news reports have emerged of the same thing happening along the Texas portion of the U.S.-Mexico border.
“In one case, a Cuban refugee was forced by DHS to return to Mexico even after his request for asylum in the U.S. was granted by a judge because DHS decided to appeal his case,” according to the congressional letter asking for an investigation. “These appeals can take months or even years to complete.”
While in Mexico, migrants subject to “Remain in Mexico” have been robbed, kidnapped, beaten, sexually assaulted and murdered. Researchers at Human Rights First have documented more than 630 reported cases of migrants in the program being targets of violent crime.
The congressional coalition calling for an investigation pointed out that the State Department currently has 31 travel advisories for Mexico, including “do not travel” advisories in five Mexican states because of unsafe conditions.
©2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune
Visit The San Diego Union-Tribune at www.sandiegouniontribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
In The News
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the United States would immediately begin turning away Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans... Read More
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the United States would immediately begin turning away Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans who cross the border from Mexico illegally. The new rules expand on an existing effort to stop Venezuelans attempting to enter the U.S., which began in... Read More
WASHINGTON — Despite the inflammatory rhetoric of some lawmakers and the media reports that often parrot it, the surge of... Read More
WASHINGTON — Despite the inflammatory rhetoric of some lawmakers and the media reports that often parrot it, the surge of asylum seekers at the southern border of the U.S. is not a “security threat,” but instead an understandable flow of refugees that must be addressed as... Read More
HAVANA (AP) — The United States Embassy in Cuba is reopening visa and consular services Wednesday, the first time it... Read More
HAVANA (AP) — The United States Embassy in Cuba is reopening visa and consular services Wednesday, the first time it has done so since a spate of unexplained health incidents among diplomatic staff in 2017 slashed the American presence in Havana. The Embassy confirmed this week... Read More
WASHINGTON — A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday held that Title 42, the pandemic-era rule that restricted migration at the... Read More
WASHINGTON — A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday held that Title 42, the pandemic-era rule that restricted migration at the southwestern border on public health grounds, will remain in place pending an expedited ruling and future ruling by the justices. In a brief, unsigned order, a... Read More
WASHINGTON — Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday issued a temporary order granting a request from Republican officials in 19... Read More
WASHINGTON — Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday issued a temporary order granting a request from Republican officials in 19 states to block the Biden administration from letting Title 42 expire at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday. The order was cheered by the petitioning states as it... Read More
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Wednesday granted the Biden administration’s request for a stay of his earlier order, striking... Read More
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Wednesday granted the Biden administration’s request for a stay of his earlier order, striking down the controversial Title 42, a Trump-era immigration policy that has since allowed authorities to expel more than 2.4 million migrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border.... Read More