Tennessee residents are likely aware that several thousand immigrants from Central America have gathered at the Mexican border. President Trump vowed to prevent the immigrants from entering the United States illegally and has taken steps to prevent them from making asylum claims if they do. The president says that strong measures are necessary to secure the southern border and deter further migrants from making the dangerous journey north, but advocacy groups like Human Rights First say that his policies are placing people who are fleeing violence and poverty in danger.

These groups say that immigrants gathered in cities like Tijuana are falling victim to violent drug cartels that operate close to the border. They also claim that U.S. immigration authorities are making the situation worse by processing only a handful of asylum claims each day. Immigrants arriving at packed border facilities can now expect to wait months for their applications to be processed.

Groups including the Center for Immigration Studies support the president’s stance and say that most of the immigrants gathered at the border would not qualify for asylum anyway. These groups claim that tough policies are needed to encourage Mexico do more to prevent migrant caravans from crossing its southern border. The new Mexican government, which took office on Dec. 1, is said to be willing to work with Trump to handle the current immigrant crisis and prevent future caravans.

Individuals qualify for asylum in the United States if they have faced persecution based on their political opinion, race, religion, nationality or membership in a particular social group. Attorneys familiar with the asylum process may help those who wish to file a petition to gather the type of evidence that judges find compelling. Attorneys might also describe the other paths to residency and citizenship that may be available if asylum claims are denied.

Source: NPR, Trump Plan Could Leave Asylum-Seekers At Risk In Mexico, Joel Rose, Nov. 29, 2018