Can you seek asylum at the border

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. 

It is legal to seek asylum at the U.S. Mexico border

International and U.S. law gives everyone the right to request asylum in the USA and at the U.S. Mexico border. It is your legal right even though policies like Title 42 and MPP have made it harder.

You can make an appointment through the CBP one app. This is for anyone seeking a humanitarian exception to Title 42 and does not have documents to enter the USA. You must currently be in Central and Northwest Mexico. It gives you an opportunity to present your information at a participating point of entry at the border. An appointment does not guarantee entry.

If you do not make an appointment and try to cross the border without proper documents, you risk being apprehended by Border Patrol and put into expedited removal. Tell them you fear returning to your country and want to apply for asylum. You could be put in a detention center while you make your credible fear case.

Learn more about how to apply for asylum.

Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans may now be eligible for a temporary program to come to the USA. If you are trying to enter the USA and cross Panama, Mexico, or the U.S. border you will not be allowed to apply. Learn more.

Expedited removal

Expedited removal allows immigration officers to quickly decide if a person should be deported without appearing before a judge. DHS is increasing the use of expedited removal of people who cannot be processed due to Title 42.

You can be placed in expedited removal proceedings if you entered the U.S. without a valid entry document (visa, border crossing card, or passport) 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 is not allowed for unaccompanied children. 

If you say that you want to apply for asylum or fear persecution, you have the right to a credible fear interview. You should not be removed from the U.S. until an asylum officer decides whether you have a credible fear and can apply for asylum. Some people are still removed without an interview even though this is a right. Find help.

Credible fear

Credible fear means there is good reason to believe your fear of persecution. An asylum officer will give a credible fear interview to learn more about your fear of returning. You may remain in a detention center or be released with surveillance while you wait.

The credible fear screening will happen over the phone or in person. An asylum officer will ask you four 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:

  • Why did you leave your home or country of last residence?
  • Do you have any fear or concern about being returned to your home country or being removed from the U.S.?
  • Would you be harmed if you are returned to your home country or country of last residence?
  • Do you have any questions or is there anything else you would like to add?

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. 

Free membership with legal help and information.
Help to find services near you.
Help for those detained in Arizona.
1845# from a detention facility phone
Search for legal help by detention facility.
Help for those who have been detained.
9233# from a detention facility phone
Help if you have been separated from a child or family.
[email protected]
Help if you have been sexually assaulted in a detention facility or elsewhere.
Help if you have been separated from a child or family. Available 24 hours a day.
699# from a detention facility phone
[email protected]
Help for refugees and asylum-seekers detained in the U.S.
#566 from a detention facility phone
Get updates about your case.
Get information on family members and your case. Report problems while in detention such as sexual or physical abuse.
9116# from a detention facility phone
Family separation: [email protected]
Detainee locator:
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Other state organizations that are helping people at the border include:

Catholic Community Services / Casa Alitas

Galilee Center

Mexico and California
Al Atro Lado
Border Angels

New Mexico
Lutheran Family Services

Annunication House
Good Neighbor Settlement House
Interfaith Welcome Collective 

The information on this page comes from the Department of Homeland Security, non-profit organizations working at the border, and other trusted sources. It is intended for guidance and is updated as often as possible.

USAHello does not give legal advice, nor are any of our materials intended to be taken as legal advice.