June, 2023

A July 12, 2023 Human Rights First report found that asylum seekers forced to undergo credible fear interviews by telephone from CBP custody, under the Biden administration’s new asylum rule, “face abysmal conditions — including inadequate access to food, hygiene, or medical care — which may lead some to abandon their claims for protection.”

The report related the case of a Venezuelan asylum seeker fleeing government persecution who “accepted voluntary return to Mexico in June 2023 while suffering horrendous medical neglect in CBP custody.”

His asthma was exacerbated by the extreme cold in the CBP jail and he had recently been ill with pneumonia, but he was denied access to an inhaler or other medical care by CBP officers who told him they didn’t care or to “shut up” when he begged for medical attention. Though he feared harm in Mexico because he witnessed Mexican police targeting other Venezuelan migrants due to their nationality, he felt compelled to accept voluntary return to Mexico because of the conditions in CBP detention, according to his attorney at NIJC [National Immigrant Justice Center].

— Asencio, Christina, Eleanor Acer, and Rebecca Gendelman. “Refugee Protection Travesty.” New York: Human Rights First, July 12, 2023. https://humanrightsfirst.org/library/refugee-protection-travesty/.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Conditions in Custody, Denial of Medical Care

Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Medical Condition, Single Adult, Venezuela