Border Agents Targeting Spanish Speakers and Migrants from Latin America
In late January 2019, the Trump administration launched a program that shifted the way the United States handled cases regarding immigrants seeking asylum. Initially, the program only applied to individuals who turned themselves in at an official border crossing. Now the program has expanded to include people who cross the border illegally, according to a memo from a division chief of the Border Patrol’s San Diego sector. The program is specifically targeting Spanish speaking and Latin American individuals stating that the group of immigrants who will not be sent back to Mexico and will go through the asylum process in the United States immigration court system are pregnant women, LGBT migrants and people suffering from a medical issue. Authorities have previously stated that Mexican asylum seekers and children traveling alone will be excluded from the program’s eligibility. Top Border Patrol officials in San Diego have stated that the agency is under, “pressures to utilize this program as much as we can.” The Department of Homeland Security recently described the program as, “another tool available in the law” and that the program was being executed in a, “thoughtful and deliberate manner.” In which would protect vulnerable migrants. Judy Rabinovitz, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, stated, “We know they are trying to get at Central American asylum seekers but to see it written there so blatantly is so disturbing.” Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stated that, “All asylum seekers have the opportunity to present their case…We’re not turning anybody around.” Though February of this year has reported a soaring number of arrests made through the program and the majority from individuals fleeing from Central America. If you have any questions or concerns regarding asylum please feel free to contact an immigration attorney.