On Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr issued an order that reverses current immigration policy. This order directs immigration judges to deny migrants a chance to post bail. This would affect adult asylum seekers traveling alone who enter this country at a place other than an established port of entry from being allowed a bond hearing regardless of whether or not they pass a credible fear interview.
This order, expected to go into effect in 90 days allowing ICE time to increase bed space, will unilaterally expand mass incarceration. Forcing thousands of people to languish in public and private detention facilities is a design to cause asylum seekers to give up hope and return to the very situations from which they flee. Such a ruling flies in the face of the 1951 Refugee Convention that prohibits the penalizing of asylum seekers based on their manner of entry.
The Constitution affords people a right to due process regardless of their citizenship.
Denying asylum seekers this right allows profit-motivated private prisons to collect funds on the backs of thousands of marginalized people seeking safety and a place to call home. These prisons are notorious for cutting costs on medical and mental health care, food quality, sanitation standards, and safety, all for the sake of profit.
The asylum process is difficult to navigate. Though 90% pass their credible fear interviews, the majority of asylum seekers are still deported. Keeping applicants in detention increases the chances that they will be exposed to medical neglect, sexual assault, solitary, and the otherwise isolating and degrading conditions of confinement. Asylum seekers often are fleeing similar injustices in their home countries. The United States’ response should not be to lock them away.
Orders like these make the immigration process even more challenging for those we serve. You can trust that RAICES will not take this lying down. We will continue to expand our outreach programs to detained and recently released migrants. Lawsuits will be filed to fight decisions like these that keep migrants waiting unreasonably long periods of time to make their cases. Until the immigration process is handled in a humanitarian way, RAICES will continue to fight.