WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (D-CA) released the following joint statement after leading 40 Members of Congress in sending a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly requesting that an investigation be conducted following claims that asylum seekers are being illegally turned away at the U.S. border by immigration officials and urging that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents undergo re-training on appropriate processing of vulnerable populations arriving at the border.
“It is alarming to learn that there have been several cases where individuals seeking asylum in our country for credible fear of violence, rape, and even death are reportedly being blatantly denied that right,” Rep. Grijalva said. “So many of these individuals have undertaken a perilous journey to reach the U.S and any glimpse of a better future for themselves and their family is shattered. Unfortunately, this is not the first instance in which reports of the Department of Homeland Security personnel under the direction of Secretary Kelly has faltered on proper protocol for sensitive immigration activities. I urge Sec. Kelly to investigate these claims and ensure his agents are properly trained and provided specific guidelines for the processing of vulnerable populations arriving at the border. This could be a matter of life or death for these women, men and children.”
“Time and time again, this administration has shown a stunning disregard for the values that make this the greatest nation on earth,” Rep. Torres said. “I am simply shocked at these reports that CBP is turning away asylum seekers. These are women and children desperately fleeing violence and persecution who are fully within their legal rights to seek protection at our ports of entry. These reported actions are completely un-American, and I expect a serious and transparent investigation of these reports.”
In the letter, the Members also highlight that “CBP agents are not to make any determination regarding the merits or credibility of an individual’s protection claim, or turn away asylum seekers.”
Full text of the letter can be found here.