On August 31, 2020, Judge Leon in the District Court of the District of Columbia issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the deportation of families and the use of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to screen asylum seekers for their ‘credible fear’ of persecution while a lawsuit remains pending. Tahirih filed the lawsuit on March 27, 2020 on behalf of women and children currently detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. In partnership with the Constitutional Accountability Center, Tahirih challenged this practice on a variety of grounds. Tahirih has also sought information on this clandestine policy through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to compel the government to release records on this troubling practice.
“This decision puts an end to the sham process of using adversarial Border Patrol agents to conduct highly sensitive interviews with asylum seekers,” said Julie Carpenter, Tahirih Senior Litigation Counsel. “Credible fear interviews are supposed to be low-bar screening interviews—the non-adversarial, first step in the asylum process. Judge Leon dismissed the government’s arguments that CBP agents could adequately conduct such sensitive interviews as ‘poppycock’. Border Patrol—federal law enforcement officers whose mission is to capture and detain immigrants— has no business in deciding the fate of survivors of gender-based violence and other asylum seekers who are seeking refuge.”