Immigrant Rights Advocates Urge Court to Permanently End Trump-Era Policy that Turned Back Tens of Thousands of Asylum Seekers

September 1, 2021, San Diego, CA Immigrant rights advocates released the statement below after presenting oral arguments beforeU.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant of the Southern District of California, where they urged the court to declare unlawful and permanently end the Trump-era turnback policy. Under the policy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the country’s largest federal law enforcement agency, falsely claimed they did not have capacity to process asylum seekers at ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border as a pretext for denying refugees access to protection in the United States.

"This case marks a particularly shameful page in this nation’s history. Rather than welcoming those fleeing persecution at its front door as this country has done for generations, the U.S. government engaged in institutionalized lying and denied asylum seekers access to the nation’s asylum system. It is time for this dark chapter of our history to end."

The case, Al Otro Lado v. Mayorkas, was brought by Al Otro Lado, a bi-national advocacy and legal aid organization, and a group of 13 individuals seeking asylum in the United States whom CBP turned away at ports of entry along the southern border through metering and other tactics. They are represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Southern Poverty Law Center, American Immigration Council, and the law firm Mayer Brown.

In briefs filed ahead of the hearing, the plaintiffs’ attorneys argue that U.S. law, the Constitution, and international legal principles require that asylum seekers be inspected and processed when they are arriving at ports of entry. The motion also emphasizes that asylum seekers have been seriously injured, raped, and even killed after CBP officers turned them back to Mexico. 

For more information, visit the Southern Poverty Law Center, Center for Constitutional Rights and American Immigration Council

Al Otro Lado is a bi-national organization providing no-cost legal services and humanitarian aid to deportees, asylum seekers, and migrants in the U.S. and Mexico using a multidisciplinary, client-centered, and trauma-informed approach. Their human rights monitoring in immigration prisons and at the border informs their impact litigation and policy advocacy strategies with a focus on dismantling systems of oppression. Learn more at and follow on social media for updates: Al Otro Lado on Facebook, and @alotrolado_org on Twitter and Instagram.


The Southern Poverty Law Center is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people. For more information, visit

The American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring. The Council brings together problem solvers and employs four coordinated approaches to advance change—litigation, research, legislative and administrative advocacy, and communications. Follow the latest Council news and information on and Twitter @immcouncil.



The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at


Last modified 

September 1, 2021