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Oregon AG Visits Tijuana To See Legal Nonprofit Helping Asylum-Seekers

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, along with the Democratic Attorneys General Association, visited Tijuana, Mexico, Wednesday morning to witness the work of Al Otro Lado.

The nonprofit legal service provider works with asylum-seekers on the Mexico side of the border, handing out information to people affected by what Rosenblum calls the "Turnback Policy."

“There’s a policy, a terrible Trump administration policy called the Turnback Policy, which is unlawfully denying individuals access to asylum, to the process of asylum at ports of entry,” Rosenblum said.

Border officials use intimidation and misinformation to delay the asylum process, she said.

"People just don't know what their rights are in the first place," Rosenblum said, so it was reassuring that Al Otro Lado was there to offer information.

Last month, 20 Democratic attorneys general, including Rosenblum, filed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit brought by Al Otro Lado against the Turnback Policy.

Democratic attorneys general have also taken other legal actions in regard to immigration, Rosenblum said, including lawsuits to protect DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) recipients and to challenge President Trump's national emergency declaration. 

"The Democratic attorneys general, when we meet, we sometimes meet in nice places like San Diego, California," Rosenblum said, referring to the trip, "but we always try to do what we can to look out for the most vulnerable as a group."

Rosenblum added: "We started our morning at 6:30 a.m. to cross the border to make sure that we went home more aware of the reality at the U.S.-Mexico than we, especially those who don't live in border states, were."

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Meerah Powell is a general assignment and breaking news reporter for OPB. She previously worked as a news reporter and podcast producer for Eugene Weekly in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. Along with writing and audio work, Meerah also has experience with photography and videography. She graduated from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication.