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January 31, 2020

Congressional Leaders Call for Immediate Halt of Trump Programs that Rush Migrants Through Asylum Screenings

New programs deny due process and rush families through life-or-death legal screenings behind closed doors

(WASHINGTON) - Congressional leaders called on Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to immediately halt implementation of the Trump Administration’s new asylum programs, Prompt Asylum Claim Review (PACR) and the Humanitarian Asylum Review Process (HARP). These programs do not help asylum seekers but instead systematically deny them due process, leave them in life-threatening circumstances, and ultimately deny the opportunity to justly seek asylum in the United States.

The letter was signed by Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Homeland Security Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (MS-2), Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), and Immigration and Citizenship Judiciary Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-19).

“The PACR and HARP programs reportedly aim to conduct initial fear screening interviews within the first 24 hours of a person’s detainment, making it nearly impossible for families to consult with counsel or have sufficient time to obtain supporting evidence…Taken together, these programs mean that families and vulnerable populations must endure screenings without their supporting evidence or the benefit of legal counsel, all while they are held in unsanitary conditions in detention. The PACR and HARP programs appear designed to prevent asylum seekers from obtaining asylum,” the Members wrote. “We are alarmed that the PACR and HARP programs result in CBP’s detention of families for weeks at a time, particularly given the unsanitary conditions for children and families in CBP facilities.  We were disturbed to learn of a breastfeeding mother who remained in CBP custody for 20 days with her child because of the PACR program.  During their detention, the mother became so malnourished she stopped producing breastmilk and was unable to nurse. Her child stopped eating and became gravely ill.  Despite their dire conditions, they were deported to El Salvador under the PACR program.”

Full text of the letter can be found here.

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Press Contact

Elena Pino (CHC) (202) 507-0273
Aryele Bradford (Oversight and Reform) (202) 226-5181
Adam Comis (Homeland Security) (202) 226-2616
Daniel Schwarz (Nadler) (202) 225-5635
Ally Kehoe (Lofgren) (202) 225-3072