US stops use of app for asylum applications in Texas border city after reports of extortion

Nueva Laredo, across the border in Mexico, is notorious for its criminal activity.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
Asylum seekers attempting to make their way into the United States via Laredo, Texas will no longer be able to book their appointments via the Customs and Border Protection app, CBP One.

While the CBP has not explained exactly why they decided to shut down use of the app in that particular area of the border, the move comes as advocates for asylum seekers warn of increasing instances of extortion committed by Mexican officials in Nueva Laredo, just south of the border.

According to the Associated Press, Nueva Laredo is notorious for its criminal activity, and the extortion of desperate asylum seekers appears to be just the latest ploy by corrupt officials to make money.

Many of those making the journey north into the US have reported that, upon reaching the border at Nueva Laredo, they were met by Mexican officials who threatened to hold them in town until they missed their scheduled asylum appointments unless they forked over some cash.

"They would tell us covertly, 'You’re going to put the money in this envelope and pass it to us'," a Venezuelan asylum seeker told the AP. He explained that upon arriving in Nueva Laredo, officials seized his documents, including proof of his CBP One appointment, and told him he had to pay 1,000 Pesos to get it back.

Alvarez added that while he refused to pay and was eventually let go, five Russian migrants who had been detained with him ended up handing over thousands of Pesos.

As the AP reports, the decision to halt appointments in Laredo came into effect on June 3, however, CBP has stated that confirmed appointments made before that date will still be valid. 

The CBP One app has become the number one method by which asylum seekers schedule their appointments as of late, however, in certain cases, individuals can still make arrangements in person.
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