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NIJC’s Findings From 3 Weeks of Telephonic Legal Consultations in CBP Custody

The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) released a new report today with preliminary observations of legal staff who have been attempting to provide legal consultations and representation to people who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum and were subjected to new expedited credible fear processes.

In the past three weeks, NIJC staff have conducted nine legal consultations with people facing their initial fear screenings while in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detention centers. The Biden administration first launched the new program in early April. NIJC's findings demonstrate that the U.S. government is actively undermining access to counsel, and that the program appears designed to rush people through to deportation without legal advice or representation.

”Access to counsel in the CBP credible fear interview process is like a mirage,” said NIJC Senior Attorney Jess Hunter-Bowman. “Despite my client requesting my representation, the Department of Homeland Security denied me the opportunity to meaningfully advise him or represent him at crucial stages of an incredibly accelerated process.”

NIJC’s new report details the following findings:

  1. CBP, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the immigration courts are actively obstructing access to counsel by failing to inform attorneys of their scheduled credible fear interviews and/or immigration judge reviews.
  2. CBP’s policies and staff render it impossible for most people who are seeking asylum to understand the credible fear interview process or obtain meaningful legal assistance.
  3. Requiring people seeking asylum to undergo processing and legal consultations telephonically and while in CBP custody is harmful for survivors of trauma and undercuts people’s ability to present their claims.
  4. Despite claims to the contrary, CBP has put at least one Indigenous language speaker through the rapid credible fear interview process.

Read the full report at