Illegal Migrant or Asylum Seeker? ACLU Lawsuit says ICE Won't Differentiate

The American Civil Liberties Union is again suing the federal government, for detaining asylum seekers as illegal immigrants, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

One of three immigrant detention centers named in the lawsuit is in south Texas.

ACLU attorney Michael Tan tells News Radio 1200 WOAI immigration officials have to be able to discern between illegal immigrants, who sneak into the U.S. for economic gain, and true asylum seekers, who are fleeing persecution and torture.

And he says when people make a credible claim of asylum, they should be released on GPS monitoring, and not locked up in a detention center like the one in rural Karnes County.

"We say this administration is advancing policies which seek to deter people from seeking asylum in the U.S.," Tan told News Radio 1200 WOAI's Michael Board.

Indeed, there have been fewer legitimate asylum seekers arriving at the southern border since President Trump's inauguration.  But Border Patrol officers tell News Radio 1200 WOAI that immigrant smugglers train the people they are paid to smuggle into the U.S. to game the asylum system, to make bogus asylum claims in hopes of not being detained.

Tan says there are 'credible fear screenings' that the Border Patrol and ICE could use to separate the real and the phony asylum seekers.  For one, the U.S. only recognizes asylum seekers from certain countries, and Mexico is not one of them.

"The Trump Administration is trying to send a message to asylum seekers from around the world that they won't be welcome here, even though the U.S. has a proud tradition of being a place of asylum and refuge."

Tan says the lawsuit is filed on behalf of some one thousand asylum seekers he says are being improperly held in ICE detention centers, including the one in south Texas.

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