A group of asylum seekers from Mexico, the Honduras, and El Salvador, is now suing the U.S. government for turning them away at the border when they arrived, fleeing from drug wars and violence.
The American Immigration Council and other groups filed the lawsuit on behalf of a non-profit legal services group called “Al Otro Lado” and six unidentified people in U.S. District Court in central California.
The class action lawsuit said border agents have used “misrepresentations, threats and intimidation,” in order to scare away migrants from crossing the borders.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
Under U.S. immigration law, if someone arriving at a U.S. port of entry expresses fear of returning to their country, border agents should refer them to an interview with a designated asylum officer.
The lawsuit detailed the case of a woman from Mexico whose brother-in-law was a high-ranking police official killed and dismembered by a drug cartel in Mexico, which then threatened her family. When she arrived with her children at the San Ysidro, California, port of entry and said she was afraid to go back, a border officer coerced her into signing a form in English that she did not understand withdrawing her application for admission to the United States, the lawsuit said.
Apprehensions of immigrants on the southwest border have dropped since the beginning of the Trump administration in January, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics. Apprehensions are down more than 67 percent to more than 21,000 in June of 2017 from more than 66,000 in October.
Those migrants that were turned away are still hoping to get a chance to stay, despite President Trump’s clear messages that illegal immigration was no longer going to be tolerated.
The case’s outcome will likely either strengthen President Trump’s immigration plan immensely, or make it even more difficult to keep the country safe.