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Immigrants granted asylum forced to wait in Mexico pending appeal: report
Immigrants who have been granted asylum in the United States are being forced to stay in Mexico while Homeland Security officials appeal their cases and being assigned fake court hearings, BuzzFeed News reported.
Lisa Koop, associate director of legal services at the National Immigrant Justice Center, told the news site that in recent weeks four individuals were denied the ability to stay in the U.S. after being granted asylum.
All of the individuals fall within the jurisdiction of the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP), a Trump administration policy that keeps asylum-seekers in Mexico as their immigration cases proceed.
While U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) commissioner Mark Morgan said "that shouldn't be happening," when answering a question about the situation Monday, a CBP official later told BuzzFeed News that if the judge's decision to grant asylum is appealed, then "immigration proceedings remain underway and individuals enrolled in MPP can be returned to Mexico to await the appeal."
Under the policy, Homeland Security officials are given a 30-day window to decide whether to appeal an asylum case, allowing them to turn away immigrants who have already won their asylum case.
When BuzzFeed News called the Department of Justice to confirm the court hearing assigned to one of Koop's clients, the automated phone line said that there was no such hearing scheduled.
According to advocacy group Human Rights First, there have been more than 600 reported cases of kidnapping, rape, torture, assault and other violent crimes against asylum-seekers and immigrants returned to Mexico under MPP.
"It's a completely inscrutable system - people who are unrepresented face the real possibility that they might never manage to make it into the US even if the government declines to appeal cases," Koop told the news site.
CBP didn't immediately return The Hill's request for comment.