October 12, 2022

A report published by Oxfam America and the Tahirih Justice Center included service providers’ accounts of CBP officers ridiculing and scolding victims of violence seeking to apply for asylum at land-border ports of entry, a right that had been curtailed by the Title 42 pandemic expulsion policy.

the behavior of CBP officers toward asylum seekers is often demeaning; a number of respondents recount instances where they ignored or belittled survivors:

“Yeah, I mean, we’ve had people who are victims of gender- based violence in Mexico, go to the port of entry and ask immigration officials if they could apply for asylum…[In some cases] immigration officials responded by laughing at the person. I’ve seen this personally in multiple cases.” [63]

Such behavior by CBP officers not only leaves survivors feeling degraded, but contrary to the dictates of the Refugee Convention, it can also discourage survivors from asking for asylum at all, even upon arriving at the border:

“She wanted to tell the officer, ‘I want to seek asylum. I’m afraid to return to my country.’ But the officer made it impossible for her to say that; he did not allow her [to speak], shut her down every single moment and said, ‘I am talking, you need to listen to me.’” [64]

— Duvisac, Sara, and Irena Sullivan. “Surviving Deterrence: How Us Asylum Deterrence Policies Normalize Gender-Based Violence.” United States: Oxfam America, Tahirih Justice Center, October 12, 2022. <https://www.tahirih.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Oxfam_Tahirh_Surviving-Deterrence_English_2022.pdf>.

Footnotes from above:

[63] Interview 7, February 2022.

[64] Interview 25, February 2022.

Sector(s): Border-Wide

Agency(ies): Office of Field Operations

Event Type(s): Abusive Language, Denial of Protection to Most Vulnerable

Accountability Status: Unknown

Victim Classification: Domestic or Gender-Based Violence Victim, Female