Since Donald Trump became president, the amount of undocumented immigrants trying to cross from Mexico to the States has dropped by 40% percent, according to the Los Angeles Times. Despite this, there are still people coming to the US-Mexico border looking for asylum, like a Mexican woman whose four children received death threats.
But US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents turned her away several times and lied about their reason behind the decision, according to Nicole Ramos, her attorney.
The anonymous woman fled from Guerrero, Mexico with her children after two armed men entered her home and threatened to kill her children unless she handed her 14-year-old son to them, according to an affidavit obtained by The Huffington Post.
“I got down on my knees and begged them to go away and leave my children alone,” the woman stated in the affidavit.
The 30-year-old woman was forced to perform oral sex on one of the men and she was shown videos of a beaten man whose hands were cut off. The two men punched the mom and told her she would have the same fate as the man if she didn’t cooperate.
After this disturbing encounter, the woman fled with her children to the San Ysidro Port of Entry, which connects Tijuana and San Diego, on January 28, where she asked for asylum. But she couldn’t continue with the process because two of her children are American.
Border agents also didn’t ask her why she was
looking for asylum and instead told her that Mexican citizens aren’t eligible.
Her two American children were allowed in the country and are living with a
On February 4, the woman returned again with a declaration of intent to seek asylum along with a letter stating she had legal representation.
But border agents allegedly attempted to get her to say she wasn’t afraid to go back to Mexico in a recorded interview.
The woman recalled this moment in the affidavit:
“All they did was yell at me and tell me I was being stupid, that people like me could not get asylum. Then the officers began recording again. They asked if I was afraid to go back to Mexico and I said that yes, I was afraid. The CBP officer said, ‘Lady are you dumb or just pretending? Quit playing games. You’re supposed to say you’re not afraid.’”
The mom was turned away for a second time. But she didn’t give up and went to Tijuana with her attorney. She was unsuccessful after border agents didn’t allow her to have her “credible fear interview,” which is the first step when applying for asylum.
“They didn’t even let me talk,” the Mexican woman said to The Huffington Post. “They said, ‘You can’t apply for asylum. Go somewhere else in Mexico.’”
CBP spokesperson Ralph DeSio didn’t comment on this particular case but shared that there have been more people trying to enter the US on the basis of asylum. “Our officers are not authorized to determine or evaluate the validity of the fear expressed,” DeSio told The Huffington Post in an email.
After border agents denied her entry three times, democratic senators from California became involved.
Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein asked CBP for more information on the case. A month later an official told them that the Mexican mom “did not express fear of returning to Mexico.” Border agents claimed that the woman “stated the reason for coming to the US was to seek employment and for her children to attend public school in the US.”
The mom of four’s repetitive blocked entry into the US prompted her attorney to ask for the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to investigate. In the last three months, there have been seven families who were forced to withdraw requests for asylum, according to Ramos.
“Please do not ignore this,” Ramos wrote in an email she shared with The Huffington Post. “One day CBP is going to illegally turn away an asylum seeks, and that human rights violation may be the thing that gets them killed.”