By Ally Bolour, Esq. – Bolour Immigration Group
Trump and some Congressional Republicans are misinforming the public about the process by which one may apply for asylum.
To be clear, it is legal to apply for asylum at any designated port of entry to the U.S. Under the law, the United States government is obligated to interview asylum seekers when they show up at the border and provide them with what’s called a Credible Fear Interview (CFI.). If they pass the CFI, they will then be afforded a full review of their claim for asylum by an Immigration Judge in Removal proceedings.
It is imperative that migrants attempt to cross the border at the designated ports of entry. Crossing over the mountains and the desert is not only dangerous but also not legal. There are non profit organizations, such as Al Otro Lado (https://alotrolado.org/who-we-are/) who provide amazing service to migrants at the ports of entry. Clearly, they should never use coyotes to cross the border. If anyone is caught crossing through the mountains or the desert, they will be detained and possibly released only if the application for asylum is ultimately approved. If the application is denied, the government will attempt to remove the applicant if there is no appeal.
Unfortunately, Trump has sowed chaos and confusion to the entire process. He has also mobilized the U.S. military and even suggested that they might shoot at women and children at the border. His DHS Secretary Nielsen has confirmed the plan. The military brass in Pentagon are doubtful of the legality of the plan.
It’s an entire different scenario if asylum applicants are on U.S. soil. In such a situation the application for asylum is made directly with USCIS and if the applicant’s request is approved in the first instance, they will never be placed in Removal proceedings. The processing times for asylum request before USCIS is only a few weeks.
If USCIS does not approve the request, the applicant will be placed in immigration court and will have a second opportunity at presenting a claim before an immigration judge. Currently the processing times for cases in immigration court range between a few months to a few years. The Applicant however will qualify to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) if there is no decision made on the application within 150 days of the filing of the application.
Please feel free to contact our Los Angeles office at 323-857-0034 if you have questions regarding the asylum process. Mention Revista Adelante to get a free consultation by one of our attorneys. If you know of someone who is detained, we also offer services at detention facilities as well as the border area as needed.