Court-Ordered Asylum Process Needed, Not Tear-Gas to Solve Border Crisis

Administration Ignoring Temporary Restraining Order

Washington, DC - Graphic images of children and women running away from tear gas fired by agents of the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) at refugees along the border with Mexico are being met with outrage and a renewed call by the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights organization for President Trump to heed a federal court order allowing the migrants to seek political asylum.

“The TRO issued Monday, November 19th by Federal Judge Jon S. Tigar of the US District Court for the Northern District of California was very clear,” says Domingo Garcia, National President. “The judge effectively blocked the government from denying asylum to those crossing over the southern border between ports of entry even if they entered illegally. Yet, they are being met with tear gas and rubber bullets in open defiance of the court. LULAC strongly protests these actions against desperate, unarmed civilians,” adds Garcia.

President Trump defended the actions of the CBP saying the agents “were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas“. He then added, “Here’s the bottom line: Nobody is coming into our country unless they come in legally.” On Monday, Mexico’s foreign ministry presented a diplomatic note to the U.S. government calling for “a full investigation” into the incident.

“LULAC believes strongly that the human rights of these refugees fleeing violence and persecution in their own countries constitutes a lawful basis for seeking asylum,” says Garcia. “Erecting additional fences, barriers and lining the border wall with barbed wire is a deliberate attempt to deny them even the opportunity to set foot on U.S. soil where they would have important constitutional protections. This led to the confrontation Sunday afternoon,” he added.

President Trump described the chemical which affected refugee children caught in the melee as “a very minor form of the the tear gas; it’s very safe” and instead blamed the adults who were with the minors. He said, “Why is a parent running up into an area where they know tear gas is forming and it’s going to form and they’re running up with a child?”

Garcia disputes that narrative and says the children were running away from the border back towards Mexico holding their parents’ hands when the cloud of tear gas enveloped them. “These children were not anywhere near the CBP agents and did not in any way pose a threat to them. LULAC demands a comprehensive investigation when the new session of Congress is convened in January so that a truthful and full account can be presented to the American people. If violations of CBP policy are uncovered, those responsible should be held accountable. In the meantime, we are urging the Administration to demonstrate restraint and allow the refugees to apply for asylum,” he concluded.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.LULAC.org

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