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Administration's approach to asylum seekers remains unclear

Administration’s approach to asylum seekers remains unclear

Some Texans are concerned about reports of the Trump administration’s changing approach to immigration law, especially people who have some involvement with the system themselves. One such issue that is causing confusion for asylum-seekers, as well as government officials in both the U.S. and Mexico, is a plan to require people seeking protection to remain in Mexico until their applications are processed. The Mexican government said that it was seeking additional information about the U.S. announcement, noting that it would not deport asylum seekers, most of whom come from Central America.

One major concern is the backlog in the U.S. immigration system. Over 800,000 cases are awaiting hearings before immigration courts. Therefore, it can take months or even years for asylum cases to wind their way through the system. People have the right to seek asylum if they are fleeing persecution, repression, and violence based on their social group or identity. While the first step of an application involves an interview with an asylum officer to determine whether the applicant has a “credible fear” of persecution, cases move to an immigration court beyond that initial stage.

Even immigration judges have said that they are unaware of how the program will work. Under current practice, most asylum seekers are released inside the United States and their cases are assigned to courts in their area of residence. It is unclear if these forthcoming cases will be heard at special border courts.

The ongoing news about immigration law and rhetoric about immigration from politicians and government officials may be of particular concern to people with pending matters of their own. An immigration lawyer can work with people to navigate the system, protect their rights and help them to remain in the country.

Source: Reuters, “U.S. plan to keep asylum seekers in Mexico sows confusion“, Daina Solomon, Dec. 21, 2018

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