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.
Persecution 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.
Learn more about how to apply for asylum.
Is it legal to seek asylum at the US-Mexico border?
Yes. International and U.S. law gives everyone the right to request asylum in the United States and at the US-Mexico border. Current asylum laws limit who can apply for asylum at the border.
Why are asylum seekers being turned away at the US-Mexico border?
Millions of migrants have traveled to the US-Mexico border to seek asylum. Most asylum seekers have left their home countries because of dangerous conditions.
The US 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 to seek asylum at the US-Mexico border. Asylum seekers have been forced to face dangerous conditions in Mexico without legal protection and resources.
Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) are known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. MPP allows the U.S. government to return asylum seekers to the U.S. Mexico border to Mexico to wait for their asylum hearing. MPP is still in effect now.
Title 42 is a public health law that allows the US government to close the border to unimportant travel during the Covid-19 pandemic. Government officials have used this policy to turn away people seeking asylum at the US-Mexico border. The Biden administration announced it would end Title 42 on May 23, 2022. However, 21 states filed a lawsuit against the administration. A federal court is scheduled to hear arguments against ending Title 42 on May 13, 2022.
Information will be updated based on the latest asylum news.
How can I seek asylum at the US-Mexico border?
Talk to a border official. 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.
Starting May 31, 2022, a new asylum rule will allow asylum officers to make a decision about asylum claims at the border instead of referring them to an immigration judge.
What happens if I am turned away at the border?
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 ask to apply for asylum.
What is the credible fear interview?
The credible fear interview 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. This means that you would have a great chance of proving your asylum claim at an 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?
Will I be detained while I wait for my credible fear interview?
Yes. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will detain you until you have your credible fear interview.
Immigration officials explain the credible fear process. Immigration officials will also give a list of free or low-cost legal service providers.
In most cases, you will have to wait days or weeks in detention for your credible fear interview.
What happens if I pass my credible fear interview?
After your interview, you will be given a written decision. If the asylum officer believes that you have a credible fear of persecution, you will be allowed to apply for asylum.
You might be held in a detention center while you wait for an asylum hearing with an immigration judge, or you might be released. You must file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal within one year of arriving in the USA. You need to do this even if you received your credible fear interview later.
The asylum application can be difficult and most people have more success if they have legal help.
What happens if I don’t pass my credible fear interview?
If the asylum officer thinks you do not have a credible fear, then you can ask an immigration judge to review their decision in a hearing.
If you do not ask for a review, then ICE will remove you from the United States.
The judge must review your case within seven days. If the immigration judge disagrees with the asylum officer, you will be able to make your case in immigration court. If the immigration judge agrees with the asylum officer, ICE will remove you from the United States.
How can I get help at the border?
An immigration attorney can help you complete your application and review your options. There are people who want to help you. Some organizations also offer free and low-cost legal help.
What can I do if I’ve been separated from my child or parent?
To help locate your family member, you can contact:
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention Reporting Information Line
Call: 1 (888) 351-4024 or 9116# from inside an ICE detention facility
Monday to Friday 8 am to 8 pm (Eastern Time)
Email: [email protected]
- Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Helpline for Unaccompanied Children
Call: 1 (800) 203-7001 or 699# from inside an ICE detention facility
24 hours a day and 7 days a week
Email: [email protected]
All phone numbers are free. You can speak to someone in English or Spanish.
USAHello does not give legal advice, nor are any of our materials intended to be taken as legal advice.