USCIS to restrict protections for unaccompanied migrant children

Indiana residents who are following the ongoing situation at the nation’s southern border may be aware that President Trump’s efforts to stem the flow of Central American migrants into the country have recently become more aggressive. The President said in late May that he planned to introduce tariffs on goods imported to the United States from Mexico unless the Mexican government takes strong action to stop migrant caravans. The following day, immigration officials announced that special protections for unaccompanied migrant children introduced during the Obama administration would be curtailed.

The new rules will prevent certain classes of unaccompanied migrant children from petitioning for asylum before a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asylum officer instead of an immigration judge. The protection was put into place to spare children the ordeal of formal legal proceedings. The rule change will apply to unaccompanied minors who turn 18 while in federal custody and migrant children who are reunited with their guardians or parents after crossing into the United States.

According to the president, drastic action is needed because Congress has failed to address the growing immigration problem and the Mexican government has not done enough to secure its southern border. Since October 2018, almost 45,000 unaccompanied migrant children have been taken into custody by the U.S. Border Patrol.

Individuals hoping to be granted asylum in the United States must convince immigration judges that they are no longer safe in their home countries because of their political opinions, race, religion, or national origin. Attorneys experienced in U.S. immigration law could help asylum seekers to prepare for their hearings and collect evidence to support their petitions.

Source: Reuters, “U.S. limits protections for some migrant children”, Kristina Cooke and Mica Rosenberg, May 31, 2019

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