U.S. Law Center

Asylum seekers face difficulties in Mexico, immigration courts

Many people in California are deeply concerned about the changes made by the Trump administration to the asylum process at the southern border, especially those with friends or family members seeking protection in the United States. Rather than being granted parole into the United States, as was common in the past, many asylum seekers are forced to remain on the Mexican side of the border while they wait for their cases to be heard. They can be ordered to stay in Mexico even if they have family in the U.S. who are willing to host and vouch for them, a process that the administration claims is an attempt to crack down on people who overstay illegally.

Asylum seekers can wait months for a hearing before an immigration judge while remaining in Mexico. Under the government's program, over 55,000 migrants have been forced to remain in Mexico for their day in immigration court. In some cases, the outcomes can be particularly confusing. One man received withholding of removal, a type of deportation protection, in immigration court, only to be sent back to Mexico for their cases to continue. In at least 17 cases, people granted a form of protection against deportation were once again removed.

It can be very challenging to successfully make an asylum claim in the U.S., with less than 1% prevailing. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have said that people who obtain withholding of removal in immigration court should be able to stay in the country, but in practice, asylum seekers continue to face difficult and dangerous conditions.

Amid this situation, people navigating the immigration system for multiple reasons may be concerned that their own status is at risk or that they could face deportation. An attorney with deportation defense experience might help people to understand the process and advocate for their rights.

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