San Diego

CBP Responds to Report of Unaccompanied Minors Being ‘Refused' at Otay Port of Entry

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials respond to a Los Angeles-based immigration attorney’s claim that seven unaccompanied minors seeking asylum were “refused” at the Otay Port of Entry on Tuesday.

Lindsay Toczylowski, director of the law firm Immigrant Defenders, said that the seven minors presented for asylum and were taken away by Mexican immigration officials.

“So shameful. Asylum is a human right,” her post on Twitter reads.

NBC 7 reached out to CBP to asked for confirmation of the incident. While we did not receive information on what Toczylowski alleges, a spokesperson for the agency explained that the San Diego Field Office coordinates processing efforts among the ports of entry in our area. San Ysidro, a larger port of entry, supports processing for the smaller locations Tecate and Otay Mesa ports, the CBP spokesperson explained.

“No one is being denied the opportunity to make a claim of credible fear or seek asylum. Depending upon port circumstances at the time of arrival, individuals presenting without documents may be directed to a nearby facility where their processing will take place. This allows CBP to coordinate with Mexican officials and work through an established process where each individual is processed in the order that they arrive,” the official continued.

On Tuesday, NBC 7 reported the San Diego area has experienced a slight increase in families entering the U.S. illegally and turning themselves into border agents since the arrival of the most recent caravan from Central America.

NBC 7 recently reported on how officials at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry turned away a family seeking asylum in November. 

“You all need to go to the other port of entry, OK, in San Ysidro,” is what an officer said to the family in Spanish. “We are not accepting anyone here.”

Federal officials working along the U.S.-Mexico border have developed a process to ensure migrants seeking asylum are “processed in priority order and as efficiently as possible,” the spokesperson said.

He adds that before the caravan that arrived in November to the area south of the San Ysidro Port of Entry there were approximately 2,800 people without documents waiting to present themselves to a CBP officer at the San Ysidro port of entry.

San Diego immigration attorney Cesar Luna said the law is clear.

“It’s against both U.S. law and international law to reject asylum applicants,” Luna said. “Each port of entry should have designated officers trained and a sufficient amount of officers to receive asylum applicants.”

NBC 7's Melissa Adan explains what the family was told by CBP officers at the border.
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