2019 – a year in US immigration and asylum

New York Times photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters of US border patrol and migrants in river

This week, ew New York Times published its “Year in Pictures” for 2019.

I couldn’t help noticing how many of the photos showed migrants, koçberan, and refugees. Ew powerful images made me think of the many changes and new rules in US immigration there have been this year for migrants, koçberan, asylum seekers and refugees hoping to come to the USA.

It is hard to remember and understand all of the changes. Some rules were blocked or overturned by judges in US courts. Others are in place at our borders. Here is a summary of US immigration and asylum in 2019.

Asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border

Many people from Central and South America come to the US-Mexico border with hopes of getting asylum. Most of them are refused, but the US administration policy is to make it hard for people even to ask for asylum. Here are some of the new rules or changes to the asylum system:

• A system called “metering” means that the USA only takes a small number of asylum applications every day. Thousands of people wait at the border with no way to know when and if they will be allowed to apply.

• The United States can say no to asylum seekers from Central and South America who traveled through Mexico, unless they have been refused asylum in another country along the way.

• Most asylum seekers who are allowed to apply will be sent back to Mexico to wait for their hearing. Others are put into detention centers in the USA. Most are families, and children may be separated in some cases.

• The USA has made agreements with Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to send asylum seekers to those countries. The USA has also made an agreement with Mexico that Mexican law officers will jail or deport migrants before they get to the US border.


her sal,, the president of the United States decides the number of refugees that can come to the USA from other countries. The UN Refugee Agency estimates that there are about 26 million refugees in the world. The US president has proposed to Congress that we admit 18,000 of them in 2020.

New York Times photo by Ivor Prickett of wounded boy in Syria

US immigration visas and American citizenship

• The US government is introducing new rules and fees for immigrants applying for visas, work permits, û nasnameya. The citizenship application fee will go up by more than $500. USCIS also plans to increase application fees for family-based petitions, adjustment of status, penaberî, and travel documents. You can see a full list of the proposed increases on the CLINIC website. The government is also trying to end fee waivers that allow low-income immigrants to apply without paying fees.

• The government is fighting a ban on its public charge rule. Two courts said in December that the ban on the rule should be lifted, but for now it is still in place. The public charge rule would make it harder for immigrants to come to the USA to join their families, or to get a green card if they are already here.

Undocumented Americans

The US House of Representatives has passed two bills that would offer a path to citizenship: one for DACA holders and one for agricultural workers. But it is not likely these bills will be passed by the US Senate.

New York Times photo by Ilana Panich-Linsmanof girls at quinceanera in Texas

The Supreme Court heard three DACA cases in November 2019. The Court will make a ruling in June 2020 on those cases. The decision will affect the status of the 700,000 ber 800,000 DACA holders in the USA.

TPS and DED holders

Ew TPS program protects about 317,000 people from 10 countries who are now living in the USA. The US administration has decided to end all TPS programs in the next two years. di çiriya paşîn, TPS for El Salvador, Haîtî, Hondûras, Nepal, Nîkaragûa, and Sudan was extended until January 2021. TPS for Syria will now expire on March 31, 2021. TPS for Somalia, Yemen and South Sudan are all due to expire in 2020.

The DED program protects an estimated 3,600 people from Liberia who are living in the USA. DED Liberia is set to expire on March 20, 2020. But some good news: Liberian DED holders may get a chance to apply for US citizenship if the defense authorization bill is approved by the US Senate next week.

Behind these facts and figures of US immigration, there are millions of personal stories. You can read some of those stories written by new Americans in our Voices collection. And thank you to the New York Times and its photographers for telling the stories of asylum seekers at the US border and of refugees all over the world.

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Ji dor Sabrina Crewe
Sabrina Crewe is a writer and editor. She edits our content and helps facilitate our free GED and Citizenship classes. She also creates materials to help refugees and immigrants understand important issues in the United States and stay informed of their rights.