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Immigration rules protecting children to be curtailed

North Carolina residents may be aware that President Trump has taken aggressive action to address what he has referred to as a crisis at the nation’s southern border. In late May, the White House said in a statement that Trump plans to introduce a series of escalating tariffs on Mexican-made goods because he feels that the efforts being taken by the Mexican government to address the problem are inadequate. The following day, media outlets reported that protections put into place by President Obama to protect migrant children were being curtailed.

Current immigration law allows unaccompanied migrant children to make their cases for asylum before a USCIS officer rather than a judge. If their claims are unsuccessful, they are permitted to make their arguments again in an immigration court. According to immigration officials, these protections will no longer be extended to migrant children who reach the age of 18 while detained by federal authorities and migrant children of any age who are reunited with their legal guardians or parents after being apprehended.

The move is fiercely opposed by immigrant advocacy groups, but Trump says such measures are needed because Congress refuses to take action on the issue. The number of people being apprehended at the Mexican border is becoming worrying for those on both sides of the argument. According to immigration officials, almost 45,000 children unaccompanied by an adult family member have been taken into custody by the U.S. Border Patrol since October 2018.

The asylum process is extremely difficult, and the majority of petitions are initially denied. Those hoping to be granted asylum must provide evidence showing that their home countries would target them for persecution based on their religion, race, political opinions, or national origin. Attorneys with experience in this area could explain the process to asylum seekers, help them to gather the kind of evidence that immigration judges look for and explain the alternative paths to a new life in the United States.

Source: Reuters, “U.S. limits protections for some migrant children”, Kristina Cooke and Mica Rosenberg, May 31, 2019

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