A newly-released report claims that American border agents are turning families away and falsely telling them the country no longer accepts asylum-seekers.
The nonprofit advocacy group Human Rights First issued the report detailing cases in which Customs and Border Protection agents misled asylum-seekers, citing Donald Trump’s presidency as justification for rejecting them.
“Trump says we don’t have to let you in,” one CBP officer said, according to an attorney cited in the report.
Similarly, a Mexican woman said agents told her that the U.S. is only granting asylum to people who are persecuted and killed for practicing Christianity in their home countries and emphasized that it did not apply to “people like” her, HuffPost reports.
Although CBP has been accused of mistreating asylum-seekers in the past, there is wide concern that, under Trump, things have taken a turn for the worse.
Shaw Drake, primary author of the Human Rights First report, said that he learned through interviews with asylum-seekers that many of them aren’t event being allowed into the building to plead their case for requesting refuge in the U.S.
Drake said he suspects that his findings are just the “tip of the iceberg” as they're based on only 125 cases, but he believes there are likely many more flying under the radar.
According to HuffPost, CBP’s job is not to determine asylum claims but rather admit people who have expressed fear of returning to their home countries and then leave it up to an asylum officer from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to assess their situation in an interview before moving forward.
This procedure was confirmed by a spokesman for the agency named Carlos Diaz who said, “CBP officers do not determine or evaluate the validity of the fear expressed. As an agency, CBP adheres to law and policy on processing asylum claims and does not tolerate abuse of these policies.”
However, immigrant advocates and attorneys maintain that individual agents are not necessarily practicing the protocol as many are failing to transfer people who express their fears over to the asylum officers.
“The U.S. has always in my mind stood as a leader globally on human rights,” Drake told HuffPost. “To have U.S. agents directly violating U.S. law and international treaty obligations in turning people away is both shocking and disturbing to me as an American.”
In addition to being both “shocking” and “disturbing,” this blatant abuse of power is discriminatory and infuriating. Trump’s anti-immigrant policies may be blocked on a federal level, but he’s got soldiers on the ground who are shamelessly defying the law and executing his plans.