Council Seeks Records on CBP’s Treatment of Migrants at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Tuesday, July 11, 2023
Last modified: 
July 11, 2023

Since May 2023, the government has been requiring that asylum seekers make appointments for processing via U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) One to maintain asylum eligibility. However, little is known about how officers at the U.S.-Mexico border are treating asylum seekers who approach ports of entry (“POEs”) without a CBP One appointment. Court rulings have held that refusal to process noncitizens arriving in the United States seeking asylum is unlawful. Yet, media reports published since the implementation of the CBP One requirement suggest that thousands of vulnerable noncitizens are awaiting processing because they have not been able to schedule an inspection appointment via CBP One.

The regulation that established the CBP One requirement, and its preamble, makes clear that CBP officers must allow asylum seekers to access inspection and processing, even if they don’t have an appointment – only later in the process are asylum adjudicators supposed determine whether migrants are eligible for asylum or not. However, it is unclear whether CBP officers at the border are actually complying with DHS’ stated policy, or if they are denying asylum seekers access to POEs.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the American Immigration Council and the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies seeks the following information from CBP:

  • Records of CBP’s procedures on how to manage noncitizens who approach ports of entry without CBP One appointments.
  • Records relating to the agency’s continued use of metering of noncitizens and its capacity to process individuals.
  • Communications between CBP officers and Mexican officials regarding immigrants’ access to U.S. ports of entry.
  • Data on the number of noncitizens processed by CBP at southern border ports of entry with and without CBP One appointments.

These records will help determine whether or not CBP is using CBP One to limit asylum seekers’ access to ports of entry.

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