With nowhere left to run, asylum seekers must "Turnback"
Updated: Apr 3, 2019
Every two seconds, someone around the world decides to get up and leave behind homes, childhood memories and families for a variety of reasons.
Many of these people flee their homes due to prosecution or human rights violations that are life-threatening. This could include violence, war, hunger, natural disasters or other crises.
The people trying to escape from these types of situations are considered refugees.
According to the American Immigration Council, under U.S. law, a “refugee” is a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country because of a “well-founded fear of persecution” due to race, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, religion or national origin.
Lilian Rubi, one of the many refugees who fled her home in Honduras to escape gang violence, explained how she came very close to losing her life.
“In the summer of 2016, I began to start a fruit stand in front of my home to support my three children. And around the third day that I had my fruit stand, two young boys came to talk to me about paying a neighborhood tax.”
She told them she couldn’t afford to pay this tax. The next day, Rubi found two trash bags on her front lawn containing human remains which the police identified as belonging to her aunt and her niece.
“I knew I had to flee right away,” Rubi said.
Situations like these happen to millions across the world, and when they seek asylum in other countries, most are turned away.
U.S. and international law state that all noncitizens have the right to ask for asylum and other forms of protection. However, in the U.S., refugees have been being denied that right.
According to American Civil Liberties Union, Custom and Border Protection has been violating this legal obligation by refusing to accept legitimate asylum applications.
It has been claiming that its facilities are at capacity and lack the personnel to process these applications.
However, evidence from 2000 demonstrated that the CBP processed 1.1 million more immigrants than this past year with less than half the budget.
This is a consequence of the “Turnback Policy,” which was enacted under the Trump Administration to prevent migrants from coming to the U.S. Through this policy, the Customs and Border Patrol deliberately applies methods to unlawfully delay migrants’ access to the asylum process, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
It does this by providing misinformation about the available space in its facilities, as well as using intimidation and force to further prevent these asylum claims from being filed or documented.
Since this policy has been enacted, non-profit legal services, such as Al Otro Lado, have been filing complaints that say the refusal of asylum applications violates Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the doctrine of non-refoulement under international law.
This policy keeps people like Lilian Rubi out of the United States and in harm’s way.
Immigrants like her are returning back to the countries from which they fled, only to be in the same dangers they faced when they left, or worse.
By Isabella Pinel