The “Return to Mexico” initiative of the Trump administration has caused significant worry among friends and family of asylum seekers in Tennessee and nationwide. People who arrive at the southern border to make a claim for asylum were, in the past, often admitted to the United States. They may have been detained or released to the community, especially if they had family members or loved ones willing to support them and vouch for them. Under the new policy, however, over 55,000 asylum seekers have been forced to stay in Mexican, even after they present themselves to a U.S. border official and make a claim for asylum.

The Trump administration says that the policy is aimed to crack down on individuals who remain in the U.S. unlawfully even after they lose their asylum cases. However, advocates point out that many people who are fleeing danger and persecution to seek asylum may continue to be vulnerable to violence and abuse in Mexico. They also say that the system does not work in many cases. Even when people receive an initial success in immigration court after waiting for months on end to see a judge, they may find themselves sent back to Mexico.

Advocates say that in at least 17 cases, individuals who received a successful first step in immigration court (withholding of removal) were still sent back to Mexico. This happened even though withholding of removal is specifically designed to protect people against deportation and despite officials’ denials that this type of practice was official policy.

People with loved ones seeking asylum may be particularly concerned about this process, especially since only 1% of asylum seekers successfully gain protection in the U.S. An immigration law attorney might help a client protect their rights and remain in the country.