U.S. Law Center

Lawyers say false addresses are being used on asylum paperwork

California residents who are following the developing immigration situation at the nation's southern border may know that the Trump administration recently instituted a controversial policy that requires Central American migrants to wait in Mexico while their petitions for asylum are being processed. Asylum seekers are sent a Notice to Appear form when an asylum hearing is scheduled, but many of them say that they are not receiving NTAs.

Immigration judges can deem asylum seekers who fail to appear at hearings in absentia and order their deportation. A group of lawyers from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Justice Action Center claim that U.S. Border Patrol agents are writing the address of a Mexican shelter on asylum documents regardless of whether or not the migrants actually reside there. They say that this is preventing asylum seekers from receiving NTAs. The attorneys plan to bring attention to the issue by filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The brief cites 18 examples migrants with paperwork that uses the Juarez shelter address. The migrants all claim that they never set foot in the shelter. The attorneys claim that the false address is one of the reasons why so many migrants are ordered deported for not appearing at asylum hearings. Many asylum seekers are LGBT individuals who are fleeing persecution in Central America and the Caribbean. Advocacy groups say the Remain in Mexico program is placing them in grave danger by forcing them to stay in a country where violence against the LGBT community is common.

Attorneys with immigration law experience could help to ensure that asylum seekers are notified of their hearing dates and prepare them for the questions they will face. Immigration judges grant asylum when they are presented with evidence of a credible and genuine threat of persecution or violence based on the asylum seeker's race, religion, sexual orientation, political opinions or national origin. Attorneys may help asylum seekers to gather evidence of a genuine and credible threat that judges could find compelling.

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