Democratic Attorneys Generals Join Al Otro Lado for US-Mexico Border Briefing and Observation
Al Otro Lado, a Nonprofit Legal Service Provider, Briefed Democratic Attorneys General on the Reality at the US-Mexico Border
San Diego, CA – The Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) joined Al Otro Lado, a nonprofit legal service provider, today at the US-Mexico border for a briefing on Al Otro Lado’s work and to observe the US-Mexico border from both sides of the San Ysidro Port of Entry. The briefing covered Al Otro Lado’s legal work serving indigent deportees and refugees in Mexico and ensuring that the rights of those seeking asylum are protected. The Democratic Attorneys General joining the observation included DAGA Co-chairs District of Columbia AG Karl Racine and Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum, Connecticut AG William Tong, Illinois AG Kwame Raoul, Maryland AG Brian Frosh, Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, New Mexico AG Hector Balderas, and New York AG Letitia James.
“I am very glad to have had this opportunity to see firsthand the many challenges that lawful asylum seekers are facing at our southern border,” said DAGA Co-chair Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum. “The work that Al Otro Lado is doing combatting the inhumane and illegal practices of the Trump Administration at the border is so important and appreciated.”
“Once again, Democratic AGs are on the frontline, pushing back against these hateful policies that do nothing to improve public safety, but instead take resources away from programs and policies that do,” added AG Rosenblum.
“As the Federal government enacts unlawful policies meant to deter asylum seekers, the state Attorneys General are often migrants’ last line of defense in ensuring that their rights are protected,” said Erika Pinheiro, Litigation and Policy Director of Al Otro Lado. “Democratic Attorneys General represent states where almost three-quarters of asylum seekers reside while pursuing their claims for protection in the United States.”
“We are grateful to the Attorneys General who have fought back against federal policies that deny these vulnerable members of our communities their basic rights of due process and family unity,” continued Pinheiro.
During today’s briefing, Democratic AGs witnessed the Trump Administration’s “Turnback Policy” firsthand, a policy that unlawfully denies individuals access to the asylum process at ports of entry through misrepresentation and intimidation, and instead, exacerbates inhumane conditions in violent border cities where vulnerable asylum seekers are forced to wait for weeks or months. In February, 20 Democratic AGs led by California AG Xavier Becerra filed a brief in support of a lawsuit brought by Al Otro Lado challenging the Trump administration’s policy which denies individuals access to the asylum process at ports of entry. “Families fleeing violence and persecution deserve to be treated fairly—not lied to and pushed back into danger,” said AG Becerra in a previous statement.
“The turnback policy is not reflective of America’s best values—the ones that welcomed immigrants like my parents, who came to the United States from Haiti to contribute to our society and economy while building a better life for their children,” said Illinois AG Kwame Raoul. “I am proud to join my counterparts in challenging an inhumane policy that targets people who are seeking to enter our country legally and are looking to our laws for relief from persecution.”
“As Attorney General of a border state, it is important to demand an improved immigration system that includes both human rights and modern border security,” said New Mexico AG Hector Balderas. “These two forms of justice are not incompatible.”
The case, Al Otro Lado v. Nielsen, challenges the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “Turnback Policy” that mandates lower-level officials to turn back asylum-seekers at the border. In the brief, the coalition notes that certain CBP practices unlawfully deter and deny asylum-seekers access to the asylum process and generate further harm by forcing them to endure inhumane conditions at the border. The Democratic AG coalition also details harms induced by the policy on the states in their brief.
“We must be doing all we can to support immigrants seeking a better life in our country, not send them back into harm’s way,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “As the top state law enforcement officers, we have a duty to challenge the federal government when they are unlawfully restricting access to the immigration process and advancing harmful policies. We will continue to stand together and fight back against these backwards policies.”
In December 2018, a coalition of 13 Democratic AGs filed another brief calling for a preliminary injunction to protect asylum-seekers. The brief filed supported a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, Al Otro Lado, and other organizations. The lawsuit challenged the Trump Administration’s attempts to prevent people entering the country away from a “port of entry” from applying for asylum in the United States, even as the Trump Administration blocks asylum seekers’ access to ports of entry.
“The Trump Administration’s cruel and illegal policies inflict trauma on children and families seeking a better life in the United States,” said Massachusetts AG Maura Healey. “As state attorneys general, we will continue to fight against these unconstitutional acts and protect immigrant rights.”
“The President has declared a fake national emergency while ignoring a true constitutional and moral crisis of his own making at our southern border,” noted Connecticut AG William Tong.
“Forced family separations, caged children, the turning back of asylum seekers with no due process at our ports of entry—these are all profoundly harmful and fundamentally unlawful,” AG Tong continued. “I am here with my fellow Attorneys General to bear witness to the ongoing pain and hurt, and believe our observations today will provide critical support to our legal efforts to protect and defend the rule of law.”
“As an immigrant whose family sought refuge from political repression in Haiti, I empathize whole-heartedly with the mothers and fathers who are coming to the United States to protect their children from violence, and to put them in position to be free,” said DAGA Co-chair District of Columbia AG Karl Racine. “As the chief legal officers in our states, the opportunity to observe and to better understand the harm happening at the southern border makes us stronger advocates for the most vulnerable in our states and for those affected by this Administration’s inhumane policies.”
“Democratic AGs will never hesitate to fight for what is right, “concluded AG Racine. “We will continue to stand up against President Trump’s attempts to hurt DACA recipients, separate children from their families, and promote a fake national emergency,”
Additional background on Democratic AGs immigration actions:
- DACA: The Democratic AG-led lawsuits continue to protect DACA recipients. Most recently, in a blow to the Trump Administration, the 9thCircuit Court of Appeals ruled to keep the nationwide injunction court order in place from the California, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota led case, which effectively reinstated the program and allowed DACA recipients to continue renewing applications.
- Based on the latest quarterly report on DACA renewal, thanks to the Democratic AG-won preliminary injunction, more than 276,000 Dreamers have been able to renew their deferred action and work authorization under DACA since January 2018.
- Family Separation: Democratic AGs are fighting to keep families together on the border including New Mexico AG Hector Balderas leading 21 Democratic AGs in a letter calling on the Trump Administration to end the “zero tolerance” policy that has resulted in the separation of families at the U.S. border.
- California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey also led a 18 Democratic AG coalition in a lawsuit seeking to force the Trump Administration to reunite more than 2,000 children with their parents.
- Fake Emergency at the Border: 20 Democratic AGs filed a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency to spend billions of dollars on his border wall. The lawsuit asks the federal court for a preliminary injunction to prevent Trump from acting on his emergency declaration while the case plays out in the courts.