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USCIS announces change in protection for migrant children

Children in Illinois who are migrants and applying for asylum may lose some of the protections they have. When children enter the country unaccompanied, they have the right to a non-adversarial interview with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services instead of being required to go to court. They are also allowed a court appeal.

An Obama administration memorandum extended these protections even if the children were no longer minors or had been reunited with a parent or guardian before filing for asylum. On May 31, USCIS announced that this memorandum would be rescinded. Since October 2018, more than 44,000 unaccompanied children have been stopped at the border. The new policy will begin on June 30. It is part of an overall effort on the part of the Trump administration to slow immigration on the southwest border, largely from Central America and Mexico.

However, advocates for asylum seekers and other immigrants say the policy will be a harmful one. It is not uncommon for children to be reunited with parents or guardians once they cross the border or for there to be a delay before they apply for asylum. Often, the children are traumatized, and it is some time before they can begin to speak about their experiences.

The rapidly changing nature of immigration law might make it helpful to work with an attorney as part of the process. This may be the case whether the person is a minor or an adult and whether the person is seeking asylum, a green card, or to live in the United States temporarily or permanently for any other reason. An attorney may also be helpful with naturalization or deportation proceedings.

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