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Seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border

Rules for seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border have been changing. Understand the process for the CBP One app, border closings, expedited removal, and the credible fear interview. Find resources to help you near the border.

تم التحديث في June 16, 2024

Important: This page is updated when new rules are announced. It includes current information on the U.S.-Mexico Border and the asylum ban.

What is asylum?

Asylum is a form of protection that allows you to stay in the USA if you have been persecuted or fear persecution in your home country because of your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. 

If you are already in the United States, you must apply for asylum within one year of entering the USA. If you entered over a year ago and have not submitted an application, talk to an attorney as soon as possible to see if you qualify for an exception to the deadline. 

Who can seek asylum at the U.S. border?

International and U.S. law gives everyone the right to ask for asylum in the USA and at the U.S.-Mexico border. It is your legal right even though the U.S. government is making changes for it to be more difficult.

If you have a visa to enter the USA or received authorization to travel to the U.S. for parole, you can go to any port of entry and legally request asylum.

If you do not have authorization to enter the U.S. and want to ask for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, you must make an appointment with the CBP One app. 

If you can not use the CBP One app because you can not read or you have major technical issues, you can ask for an exception at the border. They will ask you to prove that you were unable to use the app. If they accept your evidence, you may still be allowed to make your credible fear case. 

If you are at extreme risk, you can go directly to the border without making an appointment to ask for asylum, even if the border is closed. This includes situations like having an acute medical emergency or facing an immediate threat to your safety. 

If you try to cross the U.S.-Mexico border without meeting one of the above requirements, you will: 

  • Not be able to ask for asylum 
  • Be removed from the U.S. in a few days through expedited removal
  • Get banned from re-entering the U.S. for at least 5 years and could face prison and fines if you cross illegally again

Is the border closed?

No. However, if you seek protection in the U.S. and enter outside of a port of entry, you are now subject to a new rule that may make you ineligible for asylum. You may be eligible for lesser forms of protection such as Withholding of Removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture. 

This new rule has been called an “asylum ban.” It also restricts who can go to a port of entry to seek protection without a CBP One appointment.

The U.S. government passed this rule to stop people from crossing outside of ports of entry, remove those deemed ineligible for protection faster, and encourage using the CBP One app.

This rule does not affect certain groups. You can still go to a port of entry and may still be eligible for asylum if you are:

  • An unaccompanied child 
  • A victim of severe human trafficking
  • Someone with a CPB appointment
  • At extreme risk (as noted above)

Anyone authorized to enter the USA can do so at any time at a port of entry. This includes U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and non-citizens with valid visas or legal permission to enter the USA. 

This asylum ban happens when the average number of daily crossings reaches 2,500. This number is often reached, so expect this rule to be in place regularly. The rule is lifted when crossings go down, which could take several weeks.

If you are seeking asylum at the border, you must first make an appointment using the CPB One App. If you are seeking asylum at the border and do not have authorization to enter:

  • You must clearly state you fear returning to your home country to immigration officials. You will have to prove this with new higher standards.  
  • You will not be eligible to seek asylum if you enter the U.S. while the rule is in effect. However, you may be able to apply to stay in the U.S. under a status called “withholding of removal” due to persecution or protections under the Convention Against Torture. Your asylum eligibility may be reversed in court if the asylum ban is lifted.

This new rule is currently in effect. It is part of an executive order by President Biden. 

There are other options to come to the U.S. that may be available to you besides going to the border.

What is the process?

Make an appointment with CBP One app

If you want to ask for asylum in the USA at the U.S.-Mexico border, you must first make an appointment through the CBP One app. An appointment allows you to present your information and apply for asylum at a border entry point.

You must be in Central or Northwest Mexico to use the app. Appointments are not always available and you may have to try many times. An appointment does not guarantee entry. The time it takes to get an appointment can vary. Some asylum seekers had luck getting an appointment quickly while others have waited for several months.

(https://youtu.be/ycCejJkg6HY)

Go to your CBP appointment

You will need to go to the port of entry location at the date and time of your appointment. Bring your confirmation number. During your appointment, CBP will review your request.

CBP does not process asylum claims here but instead decides if you will have:

  • A Notice to Appear with removal proceedings in immigration court. You can apply for defensive asylum before an immigration judge. You may be paroled and released into the USA or detained while you wait for your court hearing. 
  • Expedited removal proceedings with a referral to an asylum officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a credible fear screening. 

Notice to Appear 

If you were issued a Notice to Appear, you will be in removal proceedings. This means you have to appear before an immigration judge in court. You can apply for defensive asylum and an immigration judge will hear your case. The immigration judge will decide whether to grant or deny you asylum.

Expedited removal   

If you are no longer in border patrol custody and are waiting for a credible fear interview at a different facility, you will be in expedited removal under ICE custody.

In expedited removal proceedings, immigration officers quickly decide if you should be deported without appearing before a judge. Under new policies, more people will face expedited removal from the USA.

You can be placed in expedited removal proceedings if you entered the U.S. without a visa or with false entry documents. You will be sent back to Mexico or your home country and banned from entering the U.S. for 5 years.

Expedited removal applies to both single adults and families but is not allowed for children traveling alone. Some families in expedited removal proceedings may have credible fear interviews with USCIS in the USA without being detained.

If you are in expedited removal, you must tell officials that you fear returning to your home country or country of removal, fear persecution or torture, or want to apply for asylum to be considered for a credible fear screening.

Enhanced expedited removal

If you are in CBP custody the expedited process will be different. The process is faster, with a credible fear interview happening within 3 days usually. A judge will then review it a couple of days later. 

Since the process is faster, it is harder to get in touch with an attorney in CBP custody. There is limited access to legal help and people in enhanced expedited removal are removed at higher rates and quickly.

Credible fear screening

Credible fear means there is good reason to believe your fear of persecution. An asylum officer will give a credible fear screening (also called an interview) to learn more about your fear of returning. You may have to wait for your screening at least 24 hours after you arrive at a detention center.

The credible fear screening will happen over the phone or in person while you are detained. An asylum officer will ask you questions. Your answers will help them decide if your claim is strong enough to go forward with an asylum interview or immigration hearing. 

They might ask:

  • What is your name, age, country of origin, and nationality?
  • Why did you leave your home or country of last residence?
  • Do you fear being harmed if you are returned to your home country or country of last residence? 
  • Are you afraid of being returned to Mexico?
  • Did you experience any medical emergency, severe harm, or violence in Mexico? 
  • Did you apply for asylum in Mexico or another country?

In this interview, you must explain why you were harmed or fear being harmed in your home country. The reason must be because of at least one of the following:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Political opinion
  • Membership in a particular social group
Be sure to tell the truth at your interview. Writing down key dates can help make sure you tell your case correctly each time. If you change part of your story accidentally, it could cause problems for your case.

Protection under the Convention Against Torture

There is also another protection the Asylum Officer screens for during a Credible Fear Interview called “protection under the Convention Against Torture.” This protection is offered to people who have been tortured or are afraid of being tortured by a government official or those under their direction. 

During your interview, clearly describe the type of torture you have experienced or fear, and explain your government’s role in it.

Right to screening within 60 days

If you have no prior deportation order and are detained while waiting for an interview, you have the right to have your credible fear screening and its results within 60 days since your case was sent to the asylum office to schedule an interview. 

If you have not had a screening or received the results from your screening within 67 days, you have the right to a Notice to Appear to continue your case as if you were found to have credible fear. This rule does not apply to people with past deportation orders.

Screening decision

If the asylum officer decides you have a credible fear, they can do one of the following:

If the asylum officer decides you do not have a credible fear, you can ask an immigration judge to review their decision in a hearing.

Learn what to expect when you are detained at an immigration detention center.

Find help

The asylum process is very complicated. It is important to review your options for legal help. Many organizations and lawyers offer free or low-cost legal services and support. Some are listed below.

You have a better chance of getting asylum with the help of an immigration attorney or accredited legal representative. They can help you complete your application and prepare for your interview or hearing. 

Who
Offers
Contact
Free membership with legal help
Search for legal help by detention facility
Help for those who have been detained
209-757-3733
9233# from a detention facility phone
Help if separated from a child or family
213-454-0527
[email protected]
Help for those sexually assaulted in a detention facility or elsewhere
800-656-4673
Help if separated from a child or family. Available 24 hours a day
800-203-7001
699# from a detention facility phone
[email protected]
Help for refugees and asylum-seekers detained in the U.S
202-461-2356
#566 from a detention facility phone
Get updates about your case
800-898-7180
Get information on family members and your case. Report problems while in detention such as sexual or physical abuse
888-351-4024
9116# from a detention facility phone
Family separation: [email protected]
Detainee locator:
https://locator.ice.gov/odls/
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Find help near you

Find legal support and other immigration services in your area.

Start your search

Local organizations that are helping people near the border include:

Arizona
Catholic Community Services / Casa Alitas
Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights
International Rescue Committee
Kino Border Initiativer

California
Al Atro Lado
Border Angels
Border Kindness
Galilee Center
HIAS Mexico
ImmDef
Jewish Family Service

New Mexico
Catholic Charities
Lutheran Family Services

Texas
Annunciation House
Good Neighbor Settlement House
Interfaith Welcome Collective 
Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center
ProBAR
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid

If you are looking for support outside the USA, learn where to find international help

You can find where someone is detained by ICE online using the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Online Detainee Locator System

Other forms of protection 

There are other options for you to come to the USA, including some new programs that aim to stop people from traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border.

For those interested in the parole processes, you will not be allowed to apply if you are trying to enter the USA and cross Panama, Mexico, or the U.S. border. Cubans and Haitians who try to enter the U.S. by water are also not eligible. 

Safe Mobility Offices in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Guatemala can help you explore your options. You can make an appointment here.


المعلومات الواردة في هذه الصفحة تأتي من DHS, non-profit organizations working at the border, ومصادر أخرى موثوقة. نهدف إلى تقديم معلومات سهلة الفهم يتم تحديثها بانتظام. هذه المعلومات ليست نصيحة قانونية.

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