Two controversial pilot programs aimed at quickly deporting Mexican and Central American refugees on the southern border are rife with problems, including migrant families forced into detention longer than appropriate, Adolescent girls are trapped in the same detention space as adult unrelated men and toilets in privacy-restricted facilities.
The details came from a draft report by the Office of Homeland Security Inspector General that BuzzFeed News obtained. Two pilot programs set up last fall – the Humanitarian Refugee Review (HARP) and the Rapid Refugee Claim Review (PACR) – are part of the Trump administration’s effort to speed up. screening and potentially eliminating asylum seekers at the border.
According to HARP, Mexican refugees detained by Border Patrol officers undergo initial inspection called fear of credibility interview by immigration and Naturalization Service refugee agents. United States of America (USCIS) within 48 hours and the decision on the screening is expected to be quicker than usual. Another program, the PACR, is held similarly but is aimed at Central Americans who have passed through Mexico to reach the US border.
The program was eventually suspended in Coronavirus The pandemic, as the authorities chose instead to immediately turn around asylum seekers, including children, on the border.
DHS officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The inspectors focused their investigation on the El Paso area, where they discovered numerous problems with pilot programs, including families detained in the Border Patrol Team for more than a week, exceeded The 72-hour standard for immigrant detention in CBP prisons.
However, the inspectors emphasized the lack of privacy in border facilities.
The report states that large on-site cells are causing CBP officials to grapple with confinement standards: those that require family unity and that separate women and children from the men are not involved. CBP officials organized different families together, and as a result, the women and girls in the cell were held together with men and boys who were not family members.
“We found that CBP held families together in large cells in El Paso [Central Processing Center] does not guarantee privacy or separate minors from unrelated adults, ”the report states. In one cell, two 14-year-old girls were detained with nine unrelated men.
“The restrooms in the living area have waist-high baffles that offer little privacy” and there is no “private space for breastfeeding”, although there are mothers with young children. CBP officials have placed a guard to monitor the detainees, and there have been no subsequent complaints from families.
According to the report, CBP officials have tried to create a “less restrictive” environment for detained children.
“CBP has created a play area in each cell, with colorful rugs and toys. CBP officials said they have cushioned concrete pillars in cells to protect children running around, “the report noted, comparing that experience to family detention centers run by ICE. Operator has outdoor recreation, fitness equipment, sports and consulting access.
The border officials did not fully measure the program’s success in any practical way, the inspectors wrote. According to the report, CBP has two evaluation metrics for PACR and not for HARP. There is no evidence that the agency plans to implement the policy after evaluating its effectiveness and beyond that, the CBP does not provide defined targets for border officials to evaluate success. policy from the very beginning.
CBP staff have had problems providing migrant privacy to speak alone with legal counselors and government officials. USCIS officials told inspectors that many immigrants didn’t understand what legal representation meant and that CBP officials had struggled to give them access to a phone.
In an interview about credible fear, asylum seekers must demonstrate that there is a considerable chance that they have a valid fear of abuse in their home country. Before the interview, immigrants use their detention time to consult with lawyers or others to help them prepare their case.
Finally, only a small percentage of each of these groups can pass the initial asylum screening interview: 19% for PACR and 29% for HARP.
The inspector’s draft report is an interim document, and the inspectors plan to evaluate the rest of the border sites in the future.