Immigration law has become a center of attention these days because the Trump administration is so seemingly concerned with the dangers of “illegal” immigrants. At the forefront of the conversation surrounding this issue is the band of thousands of asylum-seeking migrants in Tijuana near the U.S. border with Mexico. This issue has brought to light that most of us have no idea what the asylum application process is actually like.
Are the asylum-seekers presenting their individual cases legally, or is the Trump administration right to have deployed the U.S. Army along the border, even in one case using tear gas to disperse these people?
First and foremost, people who would like to apply for asylum within the United States can take one of two approaches. If they already reside in the United States, they can apply using form I-589. If they do not reside in the United States, then they can request asylum at any port of entry into the United States. This includes the border with Mexico where the asylum seekers are currently huddled en masse.
It can take a while before asylum is granted or denied. Typically, the law states that an interview with the asylum seeker must be conducted within 45 days of application. Once the interview takes place, a decision is required within 180 days.
Obviously these laws are at odds with what the Trump administration wants. Trump has ordered the U.S. Army to maintain a presence at the border and demanded that the migrants be held in Mexico until their fate is decided. In addition, he has made his desire to change these laws well-known, which is why so many legal teams are working around the clock to make sure he doesn’t get his way. He wants to change the law so he doesn’t have to break it (which he has arguably already done).
In order for an asylum application to be successfully granted, the applicant must prove to the U.S. government that his or her own government is either unwilling or unable to protect his or her own fundamental human rights. If these migrants are in physical danger, their applications must be acknowledged and accepted.
Trump has said that he’s okay with immigration so long as applicants follow the law. Apparently, he’s not okay with that either.