House Democrats call for investigation into border officials giving asylum-seekers fake court dates – By Gabe Ortiz (Daily Kos) / Dec 23 2019
A letter spearheaded by members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and signed by dozens of additional House Democrats is demanding that the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General open an investigation into a recent report that U.S. border officials have blocked asylum-seekers who have been waiting in Mexico under Trump policy from reentering the U.S., even after they’ve won their cases.
Advocates told BuzzFeed News earlier this month that border officials’ actions have been an intentional effort to keep asylum-seekers out of the U.S. In at least one instance, officials even issued an asylum-seeker a fake immigration court date as part of their effort to prolong his wait in Mexico. In their letter, Reps. Tony Cárdenas of California, Lou Correa of California, Veronica Escobar of Texas, and more than 50 House Democrats demanded answers.
The members wrote, “The fact that federal government officials are putting people at risk and forcing refugees who have been granted asylum to remain in Mexico is unacceptable. CBP officials are allegedly providing fraudulent documents to refugees who have already been adjudicated as needing protection in an effort to dissuade them from staying in the country. Even CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan recently stated, ‘that [fake documents] shouldn’t be happening.’ We need immediate answers about these practices.”
Asylum-seeker Francisco won his case after he recounted how he was interrogated, beaten, and threatened by Cuban officials with forced disappearance. But when he presented his court documents at a U.S. port of entry several days after the ruling, his attorney said, he was instead given a fake court date for January and blocked. Lisa Koop told BuzzFeed News that the Trump administration’s action lay “bare the true intent” of Remain in Mexico, “which is quite simply to end asylum for all peoples in all circumstances.”
Forcing asylum-seekers to continue their wait under the Remain in Mexico policy “is not an insignificant burden,” the members caution. “People who are forced to remain in Mexico face ongoing threats of murder, sexual violence, kidnapping, and other harm.” Just this month, a Salvadoran man who had been forced to wait in Mexico for four months was kidnapped and murdered. “They sent us back,” his widow told The New York Times. “We said Tijuana was really dangerous, there was a lot of crime but they didn’t listen to us. They said that they couldn’t do anything because those were Trump’s orders.”
This policy has been a humanitarian disaster, and this and all attacks on asylum-seekers need to end. “We request that DHS Inspector General answer our questions, investigate this matter, and issue a full report to the United States House of Representatives,” the members conclude in their letter to the inspector general. “Additionally, if the investigation finds that officials are criminally liable, we demand that they are held accountable immediately and referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution.”