Five amicus briefs were filed this week in support of plaintiffs in Innovation Law Lab v. McAleenan, Innovation Law Lab’s legal challenge to the Trump Administration’s policy of forcibly returning asylum seekers to Mexico to await their U.S. immigration court hearings. The briefs were filed on behalf of the labor organization representing current US Asylum Officers and other members of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); former US government officials, including former leaders in the Departments of State and Homeland Security; the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); Human Rights First; and Amnesty International USA, the Washington Office on Latin America, the Latin America Working Group, and the Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI).
The amicus briefs describe how the “Remain in Mexico” program violates binding domestic and international laws that protect the rights of immigrants seeking refuge from persecution. By forcing asylum seekers to wait in dangerous conditions along the Mexican border, the policy undermines the United States’ commitment to the principle of “non-refoulement”, which forbids any government from sending individuals back to a country where they are likely to face persecution or human rights violations.
“By forcing a vulnerable population to return to a hostile territory where they are likely to face persecution, the MPP abandons our tradition of providing a safe haven to the persecuted and violates our international and domestic legal obligations,” explained the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924 in their brief to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
These filings provide further support for what asylum seekers waiting on the Mexican border already know ー that the unlawful policy, dubbed the “Migrant Persecution Protocols” by advocates, jeopardizes the lives of thousands of asylum seekers and undermines the United States’ commitment to refugee protection. These amicus briefs also come in the wake of the devastating news of the death of multiple asylum seekers after being forced to wait in Mexico in order to request asylum in the United States, including a father and 23-month-old daughter whose horrific drowning death was captured and shared publicly this week.