March 2020

“Ms. Doe fled Cuba along with her husband in June 2019. They arrived at the United States- Mexico border in September 2019 and presented themselves at the Hidalgo Port of Entry to seek asylum. They were detained for two days in CBP custody before being placed in the so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols” (“MPP”) and forced to remain in Mexico during the pendency of their immigration court proceedings. Over the next several months, they were paroled into the United States for multiple court hearings. At the conclusion of each hearing, they were returned to the city of Reynosa in Mexico. In March 2020, an immigration judge denied Ms.Doe and her husband asylum. They both reserved appeal and were returned to Reynosa for an indefinite period of time. There, the couple faced the tremendous challenges of navigating a global pandemic in a foreign country, without critical resources. Ms.Doe and her husband both fell ill, yet due to their lack of access to medical care, they could not get treatment. Ms. Doe’s husband additionally suffered threats and extortion in Mexico.

Fearful of ever-present threats to their safety, overwhelmed by unrelenting pandemic circumstances, and without legal counsel, the couple was unable to timely submit their immigration appeal. Consequently, the pair made the difficult decision to request asylum once more at a port of entry—this time, in Tijuana. When they arrived at the port of entry, however, U.S. immigration officers told the couple that the border was “closed” due to the coronavirus pandemic, and turned them away.”

Source: ACLU, “Unresolved OIG Complaints” p. 123, March 2020. <>

Sector(s): Rio Grande Valley

Agency(ies): CBP

Event Type(s): Denial of Asylum, Denial of Medical Care

Accountability Status: Shared with DHS OIG