Groups File Challenge to Policy Trapping Asylum Seekers in Dangerous Border State

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, and Public Citizen filed a federal lawsuit today on behalf of asylum seekers unlawfully trapped in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas, a region plagued with rampant violence.

The asylum seekers, 12 adults and their 14 children, fled violence and persecution in their home countries and sought refuge in the United States. The Trump Administration instead forced them back across the border to await their immigration proceedings in Tamaulipas. The groups are asking the court to allow these asylum seekers to return to the United States so they can pursue their claims in safety. 

The Department of Homeland Security sent the plaintiffs to Tamaulipas despite the fact that the state is under a U.S. State Department Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory due to high levels of violence. There they have endured months of horrific abuse, including assault, kidnapping, and rape by organized crime groups that control the area.

The plaintiffs were returned to Tamaulipas pursuant to the misleadingly named “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP), a policy which forces asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while they await the adjudication of their asylum applications in the United States. A federal appeals court has ruled that MPP is illegal, but that decision has been put on hold pending the Administration’s request for Supreme Court review.

“After enduring unspeakable horrors in Mexico, our plaintiffs pleaded with U.S. officials not to send them back,” CGRS Legal Director Blaine Bookey said. “Instead, our government knowingly returned them to one of the most dangerous regions in the world, where they remain trapped in perilous conditions, living in fear for their lives. This cruel policy of forced returns to Tamaulipas is unlawful and flies in the face of our country’s commitments to refugees.”