Asylum claims jump nearly 70% in 2018

migrant familiesDespite the Trump administration’s tougher immigration policies, the Department of Homeland Security says the number of migrants seeking asylum in the US along the border with Mexico went up nearly 70% from 2017 to 2018, according to CNN. You may recall that President Trump signed a proclamation in November preventing migrants who enter the country illegally from seeking asylum. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan says the dramatic increase in asylum-seekers is “straining border security.” He also says Congress needs to “Address these vulnerabilities in our immigration system which continue to negatively impact border security efforts.”

Asylum seekers being turned away by ICE

migrant familiesRefugees seeking asylum in the United States now face an even more difficult process after President Trump signed a presidential proclamation limiting applications to official ports of entry. CNN explains: 

The proclamation put into effect a new rule the Trump administration entered into the federal registry on Friday that would ban migrants from applying for asylum outside of official ports of entry. The American Civil Liberties Union has already called the rule “illegal,” and legal challenges are expected to follow.

However, The Daily Beast reports that even those who are following the latest orders are being turned away because of bottlenecks resulting at official ports of entry. And HuffPost has more on the ongoing fight to get justice for migrants being detained at the border by ICE.

Podcast: California’s sanctuary law at center of fierce immigration debate

undocumented immigrantsMunicipalities in California are being pitted against one another after a state law went into effect earlier this year limiting how much local law enforcement can cooperate with ICE agents. SB54, or the California Values Act, makes the entire state a sanctuary, but while some cities are embracing the law, others are openly defying it. NPR reports:

“This is an issue that I take very personally because I am the youngest child of a single immigrant mother with a third-grade education,” says state Sen. Kevin de León, who wrote the law. “I wanted to make sure that our local police officers, our sheriffs, were not a cog in the Trump deportation machine, separating innocent mothers from their children and children from their fathers.”

NPR has more on the contentious California battle over immigrant rights.

 

Immigrant Rights Groups Demand Timely Bond Hearings and Legal Protections for Asylum Seekers

migrant familiesPlaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit challenging the federal government’s targeted efforts to deter and obstruct asylum seekers seeking protection in the United States have filed a motion for preliminary injunction demanding timely bond hearings that comport with due process.

The motion was filed in Padilla v. ICE in federal district court in Seattle, Washington by plaintiffs on behalf of a proposed nationwide class of asylum seekers who are detained after entering the United States. Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and the American Immigration Council represent the plaintiffs and proposed class members.

Plaintiffs are asking the court to order the government to provide qualifying individuals with bona fide asylum claims a bond hearing before an immigration judge within seven days of their request. Currently, there is no specified timeline and some asylum seekers languish for weeks or months before appearing in front of an immigration judge.

In addition, plaintiffs seek an order requiring basic due process protections in the bond hearing, including that immigration judges record the hearings and make individualized findings if they deny release. Despite the fact that immigration courts record all other types of immigration hearings, they do not record bond hearings. Moreover, when an immigration judge denies release, she or he simply marks an “X” on a form and does not state the basis for the decision, leaving asylum seekers with no way to assess the basis for appeal. And, unlike other custody hearings involving civil detention, the immigration court does not require the government to justify continued detention, but instead places the burden on the detained asylum seeker to demonstrate that she or he should be released.

“The Supreme Court has made clear that civil detention cannot be used as a punitive measure,” said Matt Adams, legal director for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “Yet, the manner in which the federal government conducts these bond hearings demonstrates that they are being weaponized, imposing prolonged detention and suffering on asylum seekers in a concerted effort to block their asylum applications.”

“Locking people up for weeks or months after they have proven that they have bona fide asylum claim and then denying them a fair and transparent release process is contrary to fundamental pillars of the American judicial system,” said Trina Realmuto, directing attorney at the American Immigration Council.  “We are asking the court to end these injustices and guarantee a fair process.”

The motion for preliminary injunctive relief can be read here, as well as the amended complaint, the motion for class certification, and the government’s motion to dismiss.