Crossing the Line: U.S. Border Agents Illegally Reject Asylum Seekers

B. Shaw Drake, Eleanor Acer, & Olga Byrne
Date of Publication: 
May, 2017
Source Organization: 

This report, based on the cases of 125 individuals and families, documents the difficulties asylum seekers are having requesting asylum at the U.S.-Mexican border. In many cases and at multiple ports of entry, asylum seekers are being turned away by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers without being referred to an asylum officer. Many are told that they must have an "appointment" from Mexican officials before they can seek asylum in the U.S. or that the U.S. is no longer providing asylum. Others are intimidated or coerced by CBP officers into abandoning their attempt to gain safety. Some asylum seekers have resorted to enlisting lawyers to accompany them to the border to ensure that CBP officers follow their own rules. Those who are turned away-many fleeing violence in Central America-face violence and even death if returned to their home country. Those turned back into Mexico have increasingly been at risk for kidnapping, extortion, rape, and even murder, as cartels have increased their surveillance of U.S. ports of entry and see asylum seekers who have been turned away as easy targets. The authors report that the practice of turning back asylum seekers, a problem that has been documented for many years, has proliferated since the November 2016 election. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)

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Drake, B. S., Acer, E., & Byrne, O. (2017). Crossing the Line: U.S. Border Agents Illegally Reject Asylum Seekers (Report) (p. 26). New York, NY: Human Rights Watch. Retrieved from