United States v. Vasquez-Hernandez, No. 18-50492 (5th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
After appellants, each accompanied by a minor child, stated to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) that they feared persecution in their home countries, they were arrested and charged with misdemeanor improper entry and detained in El Paso. Their children were transferred to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). In these consolidated appeals, appellants argued that they should not have been criminally prosecuted because they sought asylum, and being separated from their children rendered their convictions constitutionally infirm.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of the government, holding that nothing in 8 U.S.C. 1225(b)(1)(A)(ii) prevents the government from initiating a criminal prosecution before or even during the mandated asylum process, nor have appellants shown that qualifying for asylum would be relevant to whether they improperly entered; appellants' argument that deporting them without their children amounted to cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment failed because the four deported appellants were found inadmissible during post-conviction civil immigration proceedings, rather than criminal proceedings; the court declined to apply the outrageous government conduct doctrine in this case; appellants' claims of right of access to evidence were rejected; appellants' fair trial claim repackaged appellants' unsuccessful Brady claim and failed for the same reasons; and the government did not impermissibly burden appellants' right against self-incrimination.