Many people in California are very concerned about changing federal immigration policy, especially if they or someone they love are directly involved in the system or awaiting a decision on asylum, permanent residence or another status change. In particular, the Trump administration’s policy of requiring asylum seekers at the southern border to wait in Mexico for their claims to be addressed by a U.S. immigration judge has sparked serious concerns. A number of families have been separated as part of this policy, while other advocates have noted that asylum seekers, already on the run from violence and persecution, may continue to face severe risks in Mexico.
The administration has justified the policy change by claiming that U.S. facilities were overwhelmed by the number of people seeking asylum at the southern border. However, according to court documents, many holding cells on the border were less than half-full. At 18 of the 24 border crossing points with Mexico between 2018 and 2019, these cells reached no more than half-capacity. In some smaller crossings, they were actually frequently empty. Therefore, some immigration advocates say that the administration was using claims of overcrowding as an excuse to deter refugees from seeking asylum.
On the other hand, U.S. Customs and Border Protection claimed that its primary capacity problem was a lack of employees. However, the agency also said that inspecting truck cargo and engaging in anti-drug activities were higher priorities than accepting asylum claims. The documents were revealed as part of a legal challenge to the remain-in-Mexico policy.
Many people who are seeking asylum may be confused and concerned about the changing approach to federal immigration policy. An immigration law attorney may help people to protect their rights, seek asylum and defend against deportation.