Tennessee residents have likely heard of the migrant caravan traveling through Mexico. While some may have dreams of reaching the United States, the Trump administration has said that it wants to stop the asylum process to prevent this from happening. However, this process is enshrined in both American and international law. The United States immigration laws are entrenched in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, and its subsequent revisions, outlining the asylum process. The U.S. is also party to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention.
Anyone can apply for asylum when they reach border or after they enter the country. This is true even if they reside in the country illegally. Most people however have a 1 year deadline from when they enter the United States to apply. An Asylum Officer will determine whether the applicant is deemed to have a credible fear of returning home, and an Immigration Judge may decide if immigrants are granted the right to remain in the United States.
If an individual is granted asylum, he or she may be entitled to certain benefits and will receive authorization to work in the U.S. Those who are granted asylum may also be allowed to bring family members into the country. Finally, they may be allowed to enter and exit the country on a limited basis without losing their legal status. Once an asylee is physically present in the U.S. for 1 year, he or she will be eligible to apply for permanent residency in the United States.
Those who are curious about their rights and responsibilities under the country's immigration laws will benefit from speaking with an attorney, especially those who do not speak English.