Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center v. Wolf

No. 1:19-cv-03640-KBJ (D.D.C.)


January 31, 2020

The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association submitted an amicus brief in Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center v. Wolf, a case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, and ACLU of the District of Columbia.

The amicus brief urges the court to stop a policy that forces asylum seekers to undergo the credible fear process while detained in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody. The credible fear process is the first step to determining whether an individual will be able to pursue their asylum claims before an immigration judge or summarily deported.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented the policy through two new programs: the Prompt Asylum Claim Review (PACR) and the Humanitarian Asylum Review Process (HARP).

The amicus brief argues that requiring asylum seekers to complete the credible fear process while detained in these substandard conditions without access to counsel threatens their rights by undermining their ability to meaningfully participate in that process.

CBP facilities are commonly referred to as “hieleras,” – the Spanish word for “iceboxes” or “freezers” – for their freezing temperatures. They are also are known for insufficient and inadequate food and water, lack of basic sanitation, and conditions that result in an inability to sleep, because of the overcrowding, the lack of adequate bedding, the cold, and that the lights are kept on all night.

The amicus brief highlights evidence of these inhumane conditions, including evidence obtained by the Council in litigation challenging the constitutionality of conditions in equivalent facilities in Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector. It also offers the experiences of AILA members to show that these facilities are not designed to permit access to counsel and, as a result, attorneys and clients are cut off from each other during the critical initial asylum screening process.

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