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Leaked Border Patrol Memo Tells Agents to Send Migrants Back Immediately — Ignoring Asylum Law

April 03, 2020 (1 min read)

Dara Lind, ProPublica, Apr. 2, 2020

"For the first time since the enactment of the Refugee Act in 1980, people who come to the U.S. saying they fear persecution in their home countries are being turned away by Border Patrol agents with no chance to make a legal case for asylum.

The shift, confirmed in internal Border Patrol guidance obtained by ProPublica, is the upshot of the Trump administration’s hasty emergency action to largely shut down the U.S.-Mexico border over coronavirus fears. It’s the biggest step the administration has taken to limit humanitarian protection for people entering the U.S. without papers.

... “The Trump administration’s new rule and CDC order do not trump U.S. laws passed by Congress and U.S. legal obligations under refugee and human rights treaties,” Eleanor Acer, of the legal advocacy group Human Rights First, told ProPublica. “But the Trump administration is wielding them as the ultimate tool to shut the border to people seeking refuge.”

... “If you read between the lines,” one congressional staff member briefed on the operation told ProPublica, “they’re saying that Title 42 (the chapter of the U.S. Code that includes the CDC’s quarantine power) supersedes Title 8 (which covers immigration law).” Title 42 doesn’t clearly state that the administration may suspend its obligations under immigration law, and the Trump administration hasn’t published any legal opinions or memos that make its case.

No legal challenges have yet been filed against the new policy."