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January 14, 2019

Statement of ABA President Bob Carlson Re: Recent change in asylum rules

WASHINGTON, Jan. 3, 2019 – The American Bar Association urges the Department of Homeland Security to rescind its new policy that forces many asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are pending.

Under this policy, people who arrive from Mexico outside of designated ports of entry or without proper documentation must return to Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings. This violates long-standing provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act and due process of law. It severely impedes access to counsel and could concentrate asylum claims in a few immigration courts along the border. Further impinging on these individuals’ right to counsel is the process known as “metering,” where only a limited number of asylum cases are processed at official ports of entry each day.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, noncitizens in removal proceedings have a right to be represented by an attorney of their choosing. Forcing them to remain in Mexico while their asylum claims are pending, without any plan to ensure that they have access to counsel and U.S. courts, violates their due process rights. This policy is inconsistent with our nation’s commitment to the rule of law and our country’s history of providing refuge and safe haven for those who are persecuted.

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