Many people in Florida have been concerned about how the Trump administration’s widely publicized positions on immigration could affect refugees and asylum seekers fleeing persecution. According to a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, asylum seekers on the border between the United States and Mexico have faced unlawful interference with their ability to file for asylum. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 13 individuals seeking asylum and an immigrant legal services organization, challenges what it refers to as the “Turnback Policy” of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
Lawyers allege that CBP agents deliberately and illegally attempted to stop people from seeking asylum at the border with Mexico, telling asylum seekers false or misleading stories. In some cases, people were allegedly told that there was no capacity to process their asylum applications. Other people were told that the Trump administration had enacted new legislation and that the United States would no longer recognize asylum claims. The suit noted that these practices left particularly vulnerable at risk of serious persecution or even death due to deportation.
The lawsuit alleges that some asylum seekers were told that they were ineligible to make a claim because no more refugees would be accepted from specific countries. Other people were reportedly shouted at, threatened or harassed, or they were told that they would lose their children if they continued with the process. Other barriers were physical; CBP is accused of setting up “pre-checkpoints” to prevent asylum seekers from reaching a border point in order to file a claim.
Trump administration policy on immigration has sparked concerns among many immigrants, even people with green cards, family-class immigrants or those with well-supported asylum applications already in process. An immigration lawyer may be able to help people dealing with the system protect their rights and ability to stay in the country.