For people in Tennessee dealing with the immigration system, reports of the rapidly changing and widely publicized migration policies of the Trump administration may give many people cause for concern. According to the Department of Homeland Security, rather than allowing asylum-seekers to remain in the country while waiting for a hearing, the administration is planning to send some back across the southern border to wait in Mexico for the adjudication of their cases. This policy will apply to people who try to enter at San Ysidro, a crossing to California from Tijuana. Thousands of asylum seekers are already waiting there, including people originally from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

This differs from current policy, under which migrants who are believed by initial interviewers to face a credible fear of persecution in their own countries may remain in the United States while waiting to be heard by an immigration judge. In many cases, single people are detained during this period, but families with children may not be held for more than 20 days according to a federal court ruling dating to 2015. The Trump administration denounced that ruling and sparked global outrage when it began separating migrant children from their parents at the border in the summer of 2018.

Despite the administration’s claims that the ruling inspired more migrants to come to the U.S., undocumented immigration is lower than it was in the early 2000s. Some people will remain exempt from this new policy, including ill immigrants, unaccompanied minors and other people seen as vulnerable. Immigration advocates have pledged to file suit.

People who are considering applying for asylum or planning to simply adjust their status may be concerned by these and other shifts in policy. An immigration attorney may be able to provide advice and guidance on navigating the system and helping people remain in the country.