Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined a multistate amicus brief in support of a lawsuit brought by nonprofit legal services provider Al Otro Lado, challenging the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) practice of unlawfully denying individuals access to the asylum process at ports of entry on the southern border.
In the brief, Raoul and the other attorneys general urged the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to deny the administration’s motion to partially dismiss the lawsuit. The brief discusses how the federal government’s “Turnback Policy” exacerbates inhumane conditions at the border and causes severe harm to asylum-seekers who, through misrepresentations and intimidation by CBP, are turned away from the border. The “Turnback Policy” is contrary to both the United States’ treaty obligations and federal law, which require immigration officials to promptly give asylum-seekers a fair chance to present their claims.
“The federal government’s policy of turning away people who are lawfully entering the United States is inhumane and contrary to American values,” Raoul said.
Al Otro Lado v. Nielsen challenges the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “Turnback Policy,” mandating lower-level officials turn back asylum-seekers at the border. Under this policy, CBP has used various methods to deny asylum-seekers access to the asylum process including misrepresentations, threats and intimidation, coercion, verbal and physical abuse, and “metering,” the practice of putting artificial, daily limits on the number of asylum-seekers allowed to cross the border. In the brief, Raoul and the other attorneys general maintain that such practices unlawfully deter and deny asylum-seekers access to the asylum process and create further harm by forcing them to languish at the border under inhumane conditions.
Raoul and the other attorneys general also argue that states will be harmed by the effects of this illegal policy. States invest their own resources to provide education, healthcare, and other services to immigrants residing within their borders, including asylum-seekers once they are in the country. State and local governments will incur the cost of providing services to asylum-seekers who suffer unnecessary trauma as a result of the “Turnback Policy.”
Joining Raoul in signing the amicus briefing were the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawai’i, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.