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Asylum-seeking families face clerical errors, other obstacles

Some Tennessee residents may be aware that immigrants who are seeking asylum in the U.S. may have their situation complicated by clerical errors. This was the case for a woman from Honduras who was seeking asylum for herself and her two sons after they fled from violence related to her political organizing. They crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and were released on the grounds that they appear in court when summoned.

They moved to Colorado, and the woman checked the mail often, but the first thing she received was a deportation order. After hiring a lawyer, she was told there had been several errors made in her case file. Mistakes are not uncommon in the overburdened system. Many families have been placed on a fast-track list. The federal government says that all people deported have had an opportunity to present their case in court, but attorneys and immigration advocates say this is not correct.

A lawyer working with two families detained in Texas said they had not received mail about a court appearance and did not know they had been issued a deportation order. A former San Francisco immigration judge says assertions that people are deliberately trying to hide do not match her experience in which people given a second chance to attend a hearing usually did so.

An attorney might be able to assist a person who is seeking asylum or who wishes to immigrate to the United States for another reason. The attorney may be able to identify whether there are errors in the government's paperwork and to help in preparing the necessary documentation. With rapid changes in immigration law occurring, an attorney may also be able to help people stay informed about whether these changes will affect their status.

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