NLG Releases Report Documenting Human Rights Violations of Asylum Seekers at the Southern Border

NEW YORK—The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) has released the report, Stranded: Forced Migration, Illegal Barriers to Asylum, and the Humanitarian Crisis in Tijuana, documenting human rights abuses of migrants observed during a March 2019 NLG International Committee fact-finding delegation. The team traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, California with the aim of investigating and illuminating the injustices and human rights violations confronting asylum-seekers and their advocates in Tijuana. Read the full report below or download the PDF here.

NLG members and national office staff joined long-term, on-the-ground NLG volunteers for the week-long delegation. The team met with lawyers and activists working with migrants as well as governmental and nongovernmental human rights organizations, Mexican police, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP)­, local and international humanitarian aid organizations, and migrants themselves. The main findings of the report are as follows:

  1. President Trump applies a racist perspective to US immigration policy and has ramped up barriers to migration to create a humanitarian crisis at the border;
  2. The barriers to asylum, including the so-called “metering” system and the “Remain in Mexico” policy, misleadingly named, “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP), are illegal and exposes asylum-seekers to life-threatening conditions;
  3. The governments of the United States and Mexico are neglecting their respective obligations under domestic and international law to respect the human rights of asylum-seekers;
  4. Anti-immigrant sentiment in Mexico has resulted in harassment and violence towards migrants in Tijuana by Mexican authorities and residents;
  5. Vulnerable populations, such as unaccompanied children and LGBTQ+ individuals, are especially at risk, and are not being afforded the rights to which they are entitled under international law; and
  6. The U.S. and Mexican governments have criminalized migrants and those who are aiding them or documenting their plight, using illegal surveillance and other tactics.

Since March, the situation has worsened significantly. The asylum-seekers list in Tijuana is currently the longest it’s ever been, with 9,150 people waiting to present themselves for asylum according to Al Otro Lado, a bi-national legal services organization the NLG has been working with. MPP has been expanded along the border to the most dangerous states of Mexico. In the US, ICE raids started July 14, targeting 11 cities with large migrant populations. The NLG is working with organizations like United We Dream to connect migrants to pro bono representation.

At the 2019 #Law4thePeople Convention this October in Durham, NC, the delegation will hold a workshop with representatives from some of the groups it met with to discuss ongoing barriers to the legal right to asylum, efforts of migrants organizing in resistance and survival, and state-sponsored criminalization and surveillance of human rights defenders.

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Download the PDF file .

The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.

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