Challenging Customs and Border Protection's Unlawful Practice of Turning Away Asylum Seekers

Challenging Customs and Border Protection's Unlawful Practice of Turning Away Asylum Seekers

Al Otro Lado, Inc. v. Duke, No. 2:17-cv-05111-JFW (JPRx) (C.D. Cal. filed July 12, 2017)


On July 12, 2017, the American Immigration Council, along with the Center for Constitutional Rights and Latham and Watkins, LLP, filed a class action lawsuit challenging Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) unlawful practice of turning away asylum seekers who present themselves at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

The plaintiffs in the case are Al Otro Lado, a non-profit legal services organization that serves indigent deportees, migrants and refugees in Los Angeles and Tijuana, along with six courageous asylum seekers who experienced CBP’s unlawful conduct firsthand. Their experiences demonstrate that CBP uses a variety of tactics – including misrepresentation, threats and intimidation, verbal abuse and physical force, and coercion–to deny bona fide asylum seekers the opportunity to pursue their claims. The Complaint alleges that the government’s refusal to allow asylum seekers to pursue their claims violates the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and the doctrine of non-refoulement under international law.

On November 13, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification arguing that CBP’s practice of blocking access to asylum is so systematic that the individual plaintiffs should be permitted to represent all asylum seekers who have been or will be subject to this practice.

On November 21, 2017, Defendants’ Motion to Transfer Venue to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California was granted, and all pending motions were dismissed without prejudice.  These motions, including Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification and Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, must now be re-filed as the case moves forward before the new court.  

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November 15, 2017

It is an egregious, well-documented reality that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) frequently turns away people seeking asylum along the U.S. southern border. But new evidence presented to...

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