Can you seek asylum at the border

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What is asylum | Migration Protection Protocols (MPP)Title 42How to ask for asylum at border
Credible fear interview | Find help and separated family members
Updated as of June 2, 2022

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. 

Persection is a form of serious abuse that harms someone’s life or freedom. It includes severe physical harm, forced medical or psychological treatment, unlawful detention or punishment, severe economic harm, extortion, robbery, severe discrimination, harassment, or threats of harm.

Is it legal to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border?

Yes, it is legal to seek asylum at the border. International and U.S. law gives everyone the right to request asylum in the United States and at the U.S.-Mexico border. Current asylum laws limit who can apply for asylum at the border.

Why are asylum seekers being turned away?

The U.S. government changed the way they process asylum claims during the COVID-19 pandemic. Border officials have turned back many asylum seekers and separated families under regulations called Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) and Title 42. These laws make it dangerous and difficult for migrants seeking asylum at the border. 

Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) are known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. MPP allows the U.S. government to return asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border back to Mexico to wait for their asylum hearing. MPP is still in effect now.

Title 42 is a public health law that allows the U.S. government to close the border to certain travel during the Covid-19 pandemic. This has been used to turn away people seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Biden administration announced it would end Title 42 on May 23, 2022. However, on May 20, 2022, a federal judge ruled that Title 42 will remain in effect for now. The Biden administration plans to appeal the court’s decision.

How can I seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border?

Talk to a border official. Border officials may turn you away from the border if you do not have a valid visa or entry document. If border officials do not let you in, tell them you fear returning to your home country and want to apply for asylum. An asylum officer will conduct a credible fear interview to learn more about your fear of returning. You may be placed in a detention center while you wait for your interview.

Learn more about how to apply for asylum.

What is expedited removal?

Expedited removal allows immigration officers to decide if a person should be deported. Border officials can remove certain people from the U.S. rather quickly and without appearing before a judge. 

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. Expedited removal is not allowed for unaccompanied children. 

If you share you want to apply for asylum or have a fear of persecution, you have the right to a credible fear interview and should not be subject to expedited removal. 

What is the credible fear interview?

The credible fear screening will happen over the phone or in person with an interpreter. An asylum officer will ask you four questions to see if you have a credible fear of persecution. Your answers will help them decide if your claim is strong enough to go forward with an asylum interview or immigration hearing.

  • 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 United States?
  • 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?

How can I get help?

The asylum process is very complicated. It is important to try to find legal help if you can. You have a better chance of getting asylum with the help of a lawyer. They can help you complete your application and prepare for your interview or hearing. If you have been separated from a child or family member, there are also organizations to help you find them.

Kind of help
A free app and website to search for legal help near you.
A website to search for legal help by detention facility.
Freedom For Immigrants offers free help for those who have been detained.
9233# from a detention facility phone
Find free help if you have been separated from a child or family member.
[email protected]
Find free help if you have been separated from a child or family member.
Available 24 hours a day.
699# from a detention facility phone
[email protected]
Find free help for refugees and asylum-seekers detained in the United States.
#566 from a detention facility phone
Get updates about your case.
Get information on family members and basic case information. Report problems while in detention such as sexual or physical abuse.
9116# from a detention facility phone
Family separation: [email protected]
Detainee locator:

Learn more about finding free and low-cost legal help

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The information on this page comes from the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Register, USCIS, 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.