Illinois residents who have been following events at the U.S.-Mexico border will likely know that President Trump has called the situation a national emergency. Thousands of migrants have already fled desperate conditions in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras and made their way to ports of entry in California, Arizona and Texas. Media reports suggest that an even larger group is planning to make the perilous journey in the coming months.
Trump has attempted to tackle the issue with a series of executive orders. However, most of his efforts to prevent the surge of asylum seekers have been struck down by the courts. On April 29, Trump took what many consider to be his most controversial position yet by signing a presidential memorandum that most pundits believe will prompt another contentious legal battle. The memorandum orders the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to process asylum claims in 180 days or less, deny work permits to asylum hopefuls who crossed the border illegally and charge all asylum seekers a yet-to-be-determined application fee.
Opponents of Trump’s immigration policies say the memorandum is proof that the president simply wants to deny asylum to as many people as possible. They are especially concerned about the introduction of an asylum application fee. Advocacy groups say that the main beneficiaries of the fee will be criminal gangs that prey on migrants carrying money as they make their way north toward the United States.
The road that asylum seekers travel is a difficult one. An attorney with experience in this area may help an asylum seeker get ready for what are known as credible threat interviews and provide legal guidance if the petition is denied and they face deportation.