SILVER SPRING, Maryland - The Department of Homeland Security’s newest plan to prevent asylum seekers from applying for safety in the United States leaves them in danger, and possibly violates their due process rights, said the Catholic Legal Immigration Network.
“DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen claims that asylum seekers will have access to immigration courts and attorneys while in Mexico, but fails to provide details as to how the plan will be implemented,” said Jeanne Atkinson, CLINIC’s executive director.
“Moreover, there are no details as to how these vulnerable asylum seekers will be kept safe in Mexico. Currently five out of six Mexican states that border the United States have the highest or second highest travel warning by the U.S. Department of State.”
The Dec. 20 announcement said immigrants who do not have proper entry documents will not be allowed into the United States to seek asylum. Since changes to the Immigration and Nationality Act were made in 1996, asylum seekers without proper entry documents have had to demonstrate to a U.S. asylum officer that they have a credible fear of returning to their home country in order to pursue an asylum claim before a U.S. immigration judge. Asylum seekers could be detained during all or part of this process. Under the new policy, asylum seekers would have to wait in Mexico to have a hearing before a U.S. immigration judge. There are no details as to how this policy will be implemented.
“As we enter the holiest time of the year, we hope that our government will reflect on our duty as people of faith to ‘welcome the stranger.’ Today the administration has turned its back on our legal and moral obligations,” said Atkinson.