Author: Elizabeth Castillo LAW ‘22

Then & Now: Immigration Legal Advocacy at the Mexico-U.S. Border

Part one of a two-part post on the changing asylum landscape under the new administration. The Biden administration has signaled its intention to repair the U.S. asylum system. As law students who worked directly with asylum-seeking families, this is welcomed news. Over the last four years, the Trump administration intentionally increased the hardships that asylum seekers face. It adapted harsh, inhumane immigration policies with the express goal of deterring people from seeking asylum in the U.S. One such policy was the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. This policy treated displaced persons, including women, infant children, and the elderly, as dangerous adversaries that the country must defend itself against, and it caused widespread and profound human suffering at the U.S.-Mexico border. MPP is a Trump-era policy enacted in January 2019 which, for the first time, required asylum seekers to wait for their asylum hearings outside the United States at the U.S.-Mexico border. This policy impacted tens of thousands of asylum seekers. They were forced to build makeshift refugee camps …

Sheller Center Students File Tort Claims for Families Separated at the Border

The Trump administration has engaged in a policy of family separation, which it ramped up in 2018. Under that policy, families apprehended for crossing the border outside of a port of entry were forcibly separated. Parents were placed in adult detention while their children were sent to shelters for unaccompanied minors. They were frequently subjected to cruel conditions of confinement, including overcrowding and the inability to obtain adequate nutrition, hygiene, medical care or mental health services. Notably, the administration expressly announced its family separation policy as a tactic to deter Central American migrants from seeking safety in the United States. In these facilities, parents and children endured weeks or even months without contact with one another. Parents and their children did not know when or if they would be reunited because immigration officials would not provide any information. The separation of parents from their children has predictably caused significant and long-lasting trauma to these families who had sought refuge in the United States. Through the Sheller Center for Social Justice, we represented eight families in …