U.S border agents in June lied about an asylum-seeker on an official interview form, eventually leading to the migrant’s deportation back to danger in El Salvador. The Dallas Morning News reports that agents had listed that Benjamin was coming to the U.S. to look for work, when in reality, he and his family had fled gang threats in their home country. But border agents lied.
So how do we know that border agents lied? Well, Benjamin is only two-years-old. Not 22, not 42, but 2. Border agents falsely claimed in the paperwork that Benjamin said he was coming to the U.S. “[t]o seek employment,” and that his intended destination was “Dallas, Texas.” Smart kid.
Following this lie, Benjamin and his family—mom Roxana and an 8-year-old sister—were deported back under the rapid process that bypasses immigration court and doesn’t allow appeal.
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“They never interviewed me. Never,” Roxana told The Dallas Morning News from El Salvador. “They didn’t give us a chance to explain our case. I’m afraid. They could hurt my kids.”
Let’s not pretend this was an error. Human Rights First’s Anwen Hughes told The Dallas Morning News that the same thing happened to another child, a three-year-old boy. He supposedly also told immigration officials that he was coming to the U.S. to seek work, “which, you know, isn’t high on the order of priorities of most 3-year-olds I know,” Hughes said. A four-year-old supposedly offered a similar response, a 2016 report said.
Under the expedited removal process, “even low-level” officers can “order the deportation of some non-U.S. citizens without any of the due-process protections granted to most other people—such as the right to an attorney and to a hearing before a judge,” American Immigration Council said. “Expedited removal is literally set up in such a way that it really shoves people through the process with very little recourse,” Southern Poverty Law Center attorney Mich González told The Dallas Morning News.
The family’s attorney, Paul Zoltan, is pushing for them to be returned to the U.S. for a legitimate credible fear interview, which he believes they can pass. Provided, you know, that the mother is allowed to give actual responses. This sort of shit is exactly why national findings recently revealed that most voters don’t trust border agents. ”Only 26% report ‘a great deal’ or ‘a lot’ of trust that border agents will respect the constitutional rights of everyone,” the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California, San Diego, and the Southern Border Communities Coalition polling said.
In just one example of the routine lies we see from this taxpayer-funded border agency, court litigation revealed that agents had lied when they claimed in 2018 that the reason they were illegally turning away asylum-seekers at official ports of entry was that they had no processing space. They lied. Data obtained through the lawsuit revealed that border officers “routinely turned back” asylum-seekers even as enough space to process hundreds sat empty.
Then earlier this year, a Department of Homeland Security inspector general report confirmed that border agents also lied when they claimed they had been checking in a teenager who died while in U.S. custody in May 2019. The investigation found “that had not actually occurred.” Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez, an Indigenous child from Guatemala, died alone on the cement floor of a Border Patrol cell. While agents committed a criminal act by falsifying documents, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas never prosecuted anyone.
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