In advance of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee conducting a hearing, “Oversight of the Department of Homeland Security”, Amnesty International USA submitted the below statement for the record.
AIUSA urged the Committee to forcefully question DHS on the policies and practices that are keeping asylum-seekers from accessing protection at U.S. borders, and further demand that DHS issue clear policy guidance halting illegal push-backs of asylum-seekers, both at and between POE.
AIUSA submitted the following recommendations to the Committee to demand of DHS:
- Immediately stop turning away asylum-seekers at the US–Mexico border, both at and between official POE.
- Publicly affirm, including through public signage at US ports-of-entry, that asylum-seekers are legally allowed to enter the United States and request protection.
- Bolster CBP capacity as necessary to receive immediately all asylum claims presented at U.S. ports of-entry.
- Halt negotiations with Mexico for a “safe third country agreement.”
- Discontinue all plans and actions that would require asylum-seekers at the US–Mexico border to wait in Mexico during pendency of their asylum claims.
- End the arbitrary and indefinite detention of asylum-seekers, in violation of international law.
- Ensure that liberty is the default position, and that the detention of asylum-seekers and other people is exceptional and only resorted to when it is determined to be necessary and proportionate to a legitimate purpose, based on an assessment of the individual’s particular circumstances.
In October and November of this year, Amnesty International sent a team of researchers to Tijuana, Mexico and the San Ysidro port of entry (“POE”), where they interviewed asylum-seekers who have been illegally turned away by U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) officials and are consequently being forced to wait for over a month in dangerous conditions in northern Mexico. By turning away asylum-seekers at the border without registering and processing their asylum claims, U.S. border authorities are regularly violating both U.S. and international law.
For more information, please contact Ryan Mace, refugee specialist, at [email protected] or 202.509-8185.