Many California residents are troubled by the pronouncements about immigration policies made by President Trump, including reports that he plans to at least partially shut down the asylum process in response to the migrant caravan traveling through Mexico. The administration has openly said that it is using the immigration issue as a means of encouraging voter turnout for Republicans in the midterm elections, so it is unclear to what extent the administration will work to act on these statements following Nov. 6. If the Trump administration attempts to stop the asylum process, it will be likely be challenged in federal court.
Asylum, a process established in the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention to which the U.S. is a party, provides protection to foreigners who have a legitimate fear of persecution in their home country. The criteria include race, religion, nationality, political opinion or targeted social group, such as an ethnicity or caste. Asylum rights were also established in the 1990 Immigration and Nationality Act. On average, more than 26,000 people received asylum in the United States annually between 2000 and 2016.
Asylum applications are not based on legal entry; people must present themselves at a port of entry or already be in the country to pursue asylum. On the other hand, refugees apply from abroad for acceptance to the United States. Now, the Trump administration is claiming that many petitions are not legitimate and is seeking to limit the ability to seek asylum altogether.
The Trump administration’s anti-immigrant statements have given many people already in the United States or with asylum applications in progress reason to fear for their futures. An immigration lawyer can help people to present an application for protection and defend them from deportation attempts, working to protect their rights to stay in the country.