Court records and individual cases discovered by The Texas Tribune indicate that a number of asylum seekers who came to international bridges in Texas and California were separated from their children anyway — or were not able to cross the bridge at all after encountering armed Customs and Border Protection agents on the bridge. And experts argue there’s no basis to the government’s claim that there aren’t enough resources to process asylum seekers.
On top of that, experts say a quirk of U.S. immigration law might actually put people who try to seek asylum at the official ports of entry at a disadvantage to those who cross the border in other ways — such as wading across the Rio Grande. That’s because unlike people who cross the border illegally, asylum seekers who come to ports of entry are not eligible to be bonded out of immigration detention by a judge; instead, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have total discretion over whether they can be released.
“There’s no magic to the port of entry,” said Camilo Perez-Bustillo, who works at El Paso-based advocacy group the Hope Border Institute. “This idea that that’s the legal way to go … It’s fundamentally misleading.”