International citizens who meet certain conditions established by US law may present themselves at US ports of entry to apply for asylum. US law grants rights to those who fear persecution or harm in their respective countries and offers them the ability to seek refuge in this country. Accepting the offer, thousands of “border crossers” present themselves to Border Control agents along the US border in the hopes of relocating to the US and building a better life for themselves and their families. While in the US, they await their next steps in New Jersey and other US states.
The asylum process
There are no age minimums or maximums. A person seeking asylum in the US can be of any race, age, gender or sexual orientation. However, just because a person wants refuge, doesn’t mean he will automatically receive it. Even if the person seeking asylum is allowed into the US, the conference of asylee upon his person is not guaranteed. There is a process by which the migrant has to go to court and present his case. At his immigration hearing, the judge has the flexibility to grant or deny asylum, or give herself more time to ponder the facts. It is an unfortunate fact that many asylum seekers go to their court hearings without an attorney.
The asylum process is not set in stone. Different presidential administrations have exposed the vulnerabilities of the process. For example, the previous administration was considered by many to be hostile to the plight of the asylum seekers, even booting them from the country while they wait for their court dates. He instituted measures to return them to Mexico, and during the pandemic, keep them out altogether.
The uncertain future
The rights of refugees to apply for asylum are protected by law. However, the way the laws are interpreted or temporarily overruled means that their treatment may vary under different administrations.
The current administration is considered friendlier than the previous one, but his efforts to open up more opportunities for asylum have been met with opposition. This will be an ongoing issue for years to come.