The Crisis at the Border

At the border near Tijuana, Mexico lies a massive refugee camp that is currently home to six-thousand Central Americans who are stranded waiting to seek asylum in the United States. According to an article featured in Time magazine, government agents are only working to process approximately a hundred applications today—as asylum is something that these people must apply for and be approved for, but they cannot apply until they arrive at the border. Instead of sending judges and caseworkers to help go through the applications, the United States government is sending troops to send a pretty strong message to people who are trying to come here to seek asylum legally. 

How Asylum Works

There are two types of application processes: affirmative and defensive asylum. Affirmative is when a person is not already in removal proceedings from the United States, whereas defensive is used for people who are in removal proceedings—this includes people who arrive at the border. After coming into the United States, applicants also have up to one year to apply for asylum. When people arrive at the United States border, they are subject to expedited removal, which is a quick process that allows for fast deportations. Though, because of various international laws, they have to ensure these people are not being deported back to countries where their lives are going to be at risk. There are credible and reasonable fear screenings available to these people. If the officer determines the person has a credible fear, they will be sent to an immigration judge to begin the defensive application process.

People who have previously been deported can use reasonable fear to be suggested to an immigration officer. This process can take years, as once their application is filed their hearing has the potential to be scheduled for months to years in the future. Once their cases are pending for 150 days, they are allowed to seek work authorization in the United States, though this doesn’t get rid of their fears of the uncertainty of the future. While sometimes asylum seekers are allowed to live in the United States while everything gets processed, many times they also get detained, including families with children. This, by United States law, is not legal as it states that asylum seekers have the right to be in the United States whilst their case is pending. 

Why You Should Care

At the border on November 25, people from the large group that has been stationed in makeshift shelters in Tijuana decided to go to the United States border and demand to be allowed to seek asylum. Due to a few of the people in the crowd throwing rocks at the border patrol agents, the United States Border agents decided to fire tear gas into the large crowds that were filled with families and children only there to seek a better life. The current administration has also suggested that asylum seekers should be required to stay in Mexico during their wait period, instead of our current law allowing them to seek stability in the United States. They are also labeling people—writing numbers on their wrists to keep track of them. Put yourself in their situation of not knowing when they’ll be allowed to properly talk to an immigration agent. They’ve likely been there without proper shelter for weeks, and they aren’t sure whether they’ll be able to make progress within the upcoming week or if it’ll be a year before anything happens. The United States is tear gassing families and noncriminal people just because the government is unwilling to put forth the appropriate resources for this process to remain civil on both sides of the border.

Whether you are Republican or Democrat, the issue at the border is no longer a political issue—it’s an issue of being a decent human being.  

Resources: Time, Vox, American Immigration Council, Yahoo 

Images: 1, 2, 3