New Pilot Program in El Paso Rushes Asylum Seekers Through A Deeply Flawed Process

October 24, 2019

WASHINGTON—Media reports today indicate that the government has initiated a new pilot program in El Paso, Texas to rush the review of sensitive asylum cases. The reported program, called “Prompt Asylum Case Review,” forces families to navigate the asylum process while detained in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. CBP is a law enforcement agency with a documented history of abuse and misconduct toward asylum seekers. This change in the asylum process undermines due process and will lead to many people being returned to dangerous conditions in the countries they sought to flee.

The following statement is from Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council:

“It is well-established that Customs and Border Protection is utterly incapable of holding children and families in safe and humane conditions. Just last month we filed a complaint demanding an immediate investigation into CBP’s inadequate medical care on behalf of numerous mothers and children. CBP facilities are no place for families to spend the night, let alone fight their legal case.

“For generations, the United States has been a beacon of hope for individuals from around the world seeking safety and protection. This new pilot process in El Paso is a complete reversal of that proud tradition.

“Not only are families subject to inhumane conditions, CBP prohibits lawyers from entering its detention facilities. Without access to legal counsel or even a confidential space to share their traumatic stories with an asylum officer, asylum seekers are set up to fail. This rushed and hasty process is deliberately designed to frustrate a fair chance to present their cases and instead allows the government to swiftly deport families back to countries where they face grave danger.”

The American Immigration Council has a long history of fighting for a fair process for asylum seekers and access to counsel. We have challenged inhumane conditions in CBP custody in court and sought oversight with watchdog agencies. Additional resources about the asylum process are available on our website at:


For more information, contact:

Maria Frausto at [email protected] or 202-507-7526

Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
[email protected]

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