On July 15, the Trump administration drastically changed the U.S. asylum policy for immigrants moving through multiple countries to reach the southern border of the United States, making most families fleeing violence in Central America ineligible to enter California or other border states. A representative of the American Civil Liberties Union called the move "patently unlawful".
Migrants who are in custody after seeking asylum in the United States have the right to seek bail according to a federal judge. The ruling goes against an order from Attorney General William Barr to not grant bail for asylum seekers even after they have passed a credible fear review. The judge ruled that the directive violated the Constitution as it deprived those individuals of their right to due process.
A March 7 ruling by a federal appeals court in California might have a profound effect on migrants coming to America. Judges have agreed to allow migrants who have failed to qualify for asylum in the U.S. to appeal their rejections. This ruling stands in stark contrast to the current law, which states that rejected migrants who fail to establish "credible fear" can only appeal based on minor, technical grounds. However, the 9th Circuit federal appeals court found this to violate years of legal rulings, all of which granted constitutional protection to non-citizens.
Immigrants who are applying for asylum in California or anywhere else in the United States will file either an affirmative or defensive application. Those who are filing an affirmative asylum application must do so within a year of the last time that they arrived in America. Furthermore, they must be in the United States when they apply for asylum. After filing Form I-589 with the United States Custom and Immigration Services (USCIS), a hearing will be scheduled.
Asylum seekers approaching the border of California received some positive news when a federal judge ruled that new asylum policies from the U.S. Department of Justice violated existing law. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had imposed the new policies earlier in the year to eliminate domestic or gang violence as acceptable threats for people seeking asylum. The policies had also called for the expedited removal of immigrants requesting asylum.
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.
Many advocates in Colorado and across the country have expressed rising concerns about the Trump administration's approach to immigration policy, especially on refugee and asylum issues. Legal action in multiple venues has followed a wave of intense enforcement, including one lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The suit alleges that the administration acted illegally by deliberately restricting access to the asylum process at entry ports on the border between the United States and Mexico.
The fate of immigrants seeking asylum in California and other states has been placed in the hands of the federal government and the American Civil Liberties Union. A federal judge ruled on Aug. 17 that they must create a plan to address parents and children separated at the border with Mexico. On Aug. 16, a judge froze the deportations of parents and children who had been reunified after initially being separated.
Many people in California and across the country have closely followed the ongoing cases in federal court challenging actions taken by the Trump administration to deport asylum seekers. On Aug. 9, one federal judge harshly condemned the administration's actions when he learned that two of the people impacted by the case he was overseeing were facing deportation at that moment. The two were on a plane to El Salvador at the time of the hearing; however, the district court judge blocked their deportation. The plane was turned around on the ground in El Salvador and returned to Texas.
Coming to the United States may have been a frightening experience. However, the fear of immigrating to a new country may have seemed manageable compared to the circumstances that existed for you in your homeland. Like many, you came to the U.S. and made your way to Colorado to find a new life with new opportunities. However, you may only achieve this if your lawful status protects you from removal.