The Trump administration is debating whether or not to “ban entry of migrants” at the U.S.’s southern border, in a manner similar to the “travel ban” enacted in January 2017. This is in reaction to the so-called “migrant caravan” currently making its way through Mexico - similar groups have tried and succeeded to reach the U.S. border, with a more organized group making it to Tijuana in April 2018. What the administration does not appear to understand - or care about - is that asylum is an ancient right enshrined not only in U.S. law, but in international law, and to flout it may bring serious issues to their doorstep. For immigrants and asylees here, it may throw their futures into sharp uncertainty.
Despite the fondest wishes of the current president, seeking asylum is not illegal; quite the contrary. The right to seek freedom from persecution is a right that dates back to the Biblical era, though it most commonly is brought up in discussing the policies of the medieval Catholic Church. Even murderers were permitted to seek sanctuary in certain church properties in the United Kingdom, though the system was eventually abolished in the country (along with the Catholic Church) in the 17th century.
In the modern era, the right to seek asylum was one of the centerpieces of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, as well as being explicitly enshrined in the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (which the U.S. did not sign, despite it being the seminal authority on refugee issues) and the 1967 Protocol on the same topic (which it did). Asylum is an internationally recognized right, even extending beyond the original definition to victims of domestic violence (before the current administration rescinded it), to sexual minorities and more people who need the help. To unilaterally shut down the right to seek political asylum would be in violation of international law.
If you are currently in the United States, and you have already filed a claim for asylum, you have very little to fear from the current initiative, at least in theory, because your case is already before the courts. Even assuming such a blatantly illegal initiative as an asylum ban were to be enacted, it would not be retroactive, or at least no information currently available shows that it would be. If you have yet to file, it would be highly advisable to do it as quickly as possible, because this administration has already shown that it will exploit any available loophole to deport migrants as quickly as possible.
In order to apply for asylum, someone must be on U.S. soil - if someone makes it that far, they can either surrender to Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) or file what is called an affirmative asylum claim if they have been placed into removal proceedings before an immigration judge. If you are in removal proceedings and have filed asylum, you must be given a chance to establish either past persecution or credible fear of future persecution if you are deported (with rare exceptions). While it is getting more difficult to do this, it is still possible - approximately 10 percent of Central Americans were granted asylum last year, but while your case is pending, you are generally permitted to remain. It matters to many.
It can feel hopeless to try and win asylum, even when you have a case that is persuasive. But there are people willing to stand with you and to fight for your rights - the rights you have under both U.S. and international law. The dedicated Chicago immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC have experience in these types of cases, and we are not afraid to stand up and fight. Call us today at 630-932-9100 for a free consultation.
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