Trump administration is deporting asylum seekers to face torture and death
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s cruel statement about the death of an eight-year-old Guatemalan boy in Customs and Border Protection custody on Christmas claimed that “The bottom line is that 9 out 10 asylum claims are rejected by a federal immigration judge.” This is a lie—and a statement of intent from the Trump administration. A new Washington Post investigation shows the grim reality for many asylum seekers who are either rejected or intimidated into returning to their home countries:
[Ronald Acevedo] was deported to El Salvador on Nov. 29, 2017. He disappeared on Dec. 5, 2017, and his body was later found in the trunk of a car, wrapped in white sheets. An autopsy showed signs of torture.
Acevedo “voluntarily” returned to El Salvador, abandoning his asylum effort, after eight months in detention and being told by U.S. immigration officers that he would remain in detention for months more only to see his application denied. But it is 100 percent obvious that he had a credible fear for his life in El Salvador. The Post found another deported asylum seeker buried in the same cemetery as Acevedo. Acevedo’s family has had to flee to Ecuador, because after his murder they were targeted with death threats. Other deported asylum seekers survive by hiding indoors or spending every penny they can get their hands on moving within their home countries, trying to escape from gangs—efforts that aren’t always successful.
But Nielsen wasn’t just lying when she claimed that 9 out of 10 asylum claims are rejected by federal immigration judges. She was making a vicious promise:
The denial rate rose from 25.9 percent in 2014 to 41.3 percent in 2018, according to figures released by the Justice Department in October. Trump’s attempts to redefine the asylum process have accelerated in recent months, and many advocates worry that the percentage of grantees could fall even further in coming years.
How many more people will be deported from the U.S., told their reasons for fear aren’t enough, only to wind up tortured and murdered?