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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, expedited removal, and credible fear interview. Find resources to help you near the border.

更新 21 5 月, 2024

Important: Different rules about the border have been proposed but below is what is currently in effect. We will update this page if and when laws are changed. This page is about the Mexico border. You can also find current information on the Canada border.

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 passing new laws to make it 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. 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 may: 

  • 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
These laws are part of a larger effort to try to have fewer people come to the U.S. border. 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.

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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 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. Learn how to find help.

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.

What to expect when detained

Most people in immigration detention are in some form of removal proceedings. Law enforcement will keep you in place and you will have to follow strict rules until they decide on your case. This is called being in DHS or CBP custody. The place you are kept will either be a U.S. Border Patrol or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility. 

If you are taken by CBP or ICE, stay calm. For your safety, it is important to respect the authorities:

  • Follow instructions
  • Do not argue, struggle, or resist
  • Do not tell lies or show false documents
  • Always keep your hands where the agent can see them

Your rights while detained

It is important to know your rights with U.S. Border Patrol and ICE.

  • You have the right to remain silent and to speak to an attorney.
  • You do not have to sign anything before speaking to an attorney.
  • You have the right to a telephone call to speak to a family member.
  • Border Patrol and CBP officers are not allowed to use physical or verbal abuse, intimidation tactics, or make threats against you.

Detention facilities

Conditions and treatment in detention facilities can be very different based on where you are. You will likely:

  • Go through an initial processing procedure that includes having your fingerprints and photograph taken.
  • Be detained in shared or individual cells or dormitory-style rooms. Men and women could be separated.
  • Have limited freedom of movement and are not allowed to leave the facility.
  • Be provided with basic necessities such as bedding, toiletries, and meals.
  • Have access to medical care. Sometimes this may be limited.

There have been cases of human rights abuse and poor conditions. It is important to understand your rights and to seek legal help if you or someone you know is being detained.

Helpful information while detained

If you are trying to seek help while detained, have the following information ready to share if you have access to a phone: 

  • Your full name
  • Alien Number (assigned to you after immigration officers process you)
  • Date of birth
  • Country of birth
  • What city you are located in
  • Whether you are detained by ICE or border patrol 

An officer at the detention center can tell you where to find your Alien Number, what city you are in, and if ICE or Border Patrol runs the detention center. All this information is helpful for your loved ones or legal counsel to locate you.

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/
findhello app el paso map
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 Initiative

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.


本页信息来自 DHS, non-profit organizations working at the border, 以及其他可信来源。 我们的目标是提供易于理解、定期更新的信息。相关信息不是法律建议。

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