What is Asylum?

Asylum is a form of lawful immigration for people who fear persecution in their country of origin. Their fear of persecution must be due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. People can apply for asylum either at the U.S. border or from inside the United States. Anyone who sets foot on American soil can request asylum; applicants should submit their asylum applications within one year of entering the United States.

How are Asylum Applications Processed?

You can apply for Asylum in one of two ways. An applicant may affirmatively apply for asylum with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Asylum Office. If that application is granted then you’ll receive asylum; if that application is denied, then the case will be referred to the Immigration Court, and you’ll be able to present your application to an immigration judge.

You can also file for asylum ‘defensively.’ Defensive applications typically come about in one of two ways: (1) an applicant presents themselves at the U.S. border or port of entry and asks to apply for asylum, or (2) an applicant is placed in removal proceedings in the interior and applies for asylum. In both instances, an applicant will file their asylum application before an immigration judge in an immigration court.

Current Problems with Asylum Processing?

There are currently several issues with asylum processing. First, since 2010, the number of asylum applications has quadrupled. Logistically, this has led to backlogs in both the asylum offices and the immigration courts as well as prolonged processing times. This is particularly worrisome if the applicant is in detention while their case is pending.

Second, asylum approval rates vary widely by court location and judge, ranging anywhere from a 3% to a 91% granting rating.

Third, the Trump Administration has enacted numerous measures which have affected the way asylum cases are processed.

  • Since January 2018, the Trump Administration has implemented a “last in-first out” policy which adjudicates the most recently filed asylum applications first, and creates an even larger delay for those applicants who have been waiting now for years.
  • In January 2019, the Trump Administration implemented the ‘Migrant Protection Protocols’ (MPP). MPP is the practice of sending undocumented immigrants to Mexico while their cases are pending in a U.S. immigration court. MPP applies to immigrants who arrive by land, through Mexico, and includes asylum seekers. Logistically speaking this means that some immigrants have to wait in Mexico and will only enter the United States to attend their immigration hearing.
  • Trump’s most recent measure prohibits asylum seekers, who have traveled through any other country before reaching the U.S., from applying for asylum. The effect that this will have is to drive people to sneak into the United States, even those with legitimate asylum claims.

All of these measures are meant to deter immigrants from coming to the United States. Many of these measures have the effect of hindering an already slow and encumbered process.

If you are afraid for your life to return to your homecountry and are interested in seeking asylum in the United States, them contact an immigration attorney immediately. Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced and dedicated to asylum law. Please feel free to call us at (510) 491-0291 to see how we can help.

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