Immigrant advocacy groups in the United States
have filed a lawsuit against the country’s new administration for turning away hundreds of asylum seekers at border crossings with Mexico.
The lawsuit was filed with a federal court in Los Angeles by the American Immigration Council and other advocacy groups on Wednesday, alleging that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency has blocked the entry of hundreds of asylum seekers at border crossings in California, Arizona and Texas since last year.
The Immigrant groups said border inspectors “consistently and systematically” denied the asylum seekers access from the summer of 2016 and that the practice continues despite complaints filed in January with the Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog and civil rights office.
The move, as the class-action lawsuit states, is a violation of federal law and Washington’s obligations under international law.
Border agents and US officials used “misrepresentations, threats and intimidation, verbal abuse and physical force” to tell asylum seekers that they could not enter the country, also threatening to take away children from parents who pursue asylum claims, according to the suit.
Amnesty International and Human Rights First confirmed the report, saying such incidents have occurred at crossings along the 2,000-mile US-Mexico border over the past year.
Workers are pictured along the border line between Mexico and the US in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on January 25, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
This is while the CBP claims the number of apprehensions of immigrants on the southern border has dropped by more than 67 percent since President Donald Trump assumed office in January.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, the New York billionaire businessman pledged to construct a long wall along the US-Mexico border to keep illegal immigrants from entering the country.
As the first step to deliver on one of his most divisive campaign pledges, Trump signed a directive to begin the construction of the wall just less than a week after taking office in Washington and vowed to force Mexico to pay for the wall. The Mexican government has strongly rejected the disbursement.
The wall could end up costing as much as $21.6 billion, far more than the administration’s estimate of $12 billion, according to reports.