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CBP agents wrote fake court dates on paperwork to send migrants back to Mexico, records show

Gustavo Solis, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in News & Features

On Sept. 27, the family was given a document that read, in part, "At your last court appearance, an immigration judge ordered you to return to court for another hearing." That piece of paper told them to return to court on Nov. 28.

However the immigration judge ordered no further hearing. Ghazialam's clients do not have a hearing scheduled on that day or any other day.

To confirm Ghazialam's claims, a reporter called a Department of Justice hotline that people with immigration court cases use to check their status and dates of future hearings. That hotline confirmed that the family's case had been terminated on Sept. 17, and that "the system does not contain any information regarding a future hearing date on your case."

"That date is completely made up and the Mexican authorities are not trained enough to know this is a fake court date," Ghazialam said.

After being returned to Mexico, the mother was stabbed in the forearm while protecting her children from an attempted kidnapping. She still has stitches from the knife wound, Ghazialam said.

The mother presented herself at the border shortly after the stabbing. She told Customs and Border Protection agents that she was afraid to stay in Mexico. The agents gave her a fear of return interview and tried to send her back to Mexico.


However, this time, Mexican immigration officials refused to let her and her children back to Mexico because they did not have a future court date, Ghazialam said. She is currently with relatives in New York, waiting to figure out the future of her legal status in the United States while wearing an ankle monitor.

In most of these cases, immigration attorneys aren't aware that their clients were sent back to Mexico until it's too late.

In one case, a Cuban asylum-seeker was returned to Mexico after an immigration judge in Brownsville, Texas, granted her asylum.

The woman's lawyer, Jodi Goodwin, remembers hugging her client after the decision and arranging a place to meet after authorities released her later that day after processing.


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