CBP Policy Violates United States’ Legal Commitment to Refugees

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today called for U.S. government agencies to create stronger treaty compliance oversight with respect to U.S. policies relating to asylum seekers, borders, and migrants. The call came after a report by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that Border Patrol refers aliens expressing fear of persecution or return to prosecution, and that these referrals may violate U.S. obligations under the 1967 United Nations Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.

“Those who seek refuge at our borders are often fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer. “The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s ‘Streamline’ program violates the United States’ commitment to protect—and not penalize—those who seek asylum in the United States. These actions violate Article 31 of the Refugee Convention and Protocol, and undermine U.S. global leadership in protecting the persecuted.”

The OIG report reveals that Border Patrol agents sometimes refer asylum seekers “expressing fear of persecution or return to Streamline prosecution” by the U.S. Department of Justice and concludes that “[u]sing Streamline to refer aliens expressing fear of persecution, prior to determining their refugee status, may violate U.S. obligations under the 1967 United Nations Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, which the United States ratified in 1968.”

Human Rights First urges the White House, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Justice, in coordination with the U.S. Department of State, to immediately create stronger treaty compliance oversight with respect to U.S. policies relating to asylum seekers, borders and migrants, and to immediately adjust policies, like Streamline, that are inconsistent with U.S. commitments under the Refugee Protocol and other human rights conventions.

Press

Published on June 1, 2015

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