If you live in California and are dealing with the U.S. immigration system, you may have serious concerns about how to protect your status. Even if you are not an asylum-seeker, you may be troubled by the changing policies at the southern border, especially if you have family members or other loved ones who may be affected. Called the “Return to Mexico” policy, a directive from the Trump administration has required asylum seekers to remain in Mexico for long periods of time even if they are making a claim for protection from violence and persecution.

Asylum seekers forced to remain in Mexico

Previously, people who arrived at the southern border and indicated that they intended to seek asylum were typically allowed to enter the United States. These individuals may have been detained pending a hearing or released into the community, especially if they had loved ones or family members to provide support. Now, however, over 55,000 migrants have been required to remain in Mexico while waiting for initial hearings on their cases before an immigration judge. Many advocates have raised serious concerns about their vulnerability to abuse, violence and exploitation while awaiting a hearing.

Deportation after withholding of removal

In at least 17 cases, advocates say that people who received a positive result from an initial immigration hearing still were sent back to Mexico. For example, a man received a form of protection called withholding of removal, which should have prevented him from being deported. Rather than being released, however, he was returned to Mexico to wait for further proceedings in his case. While U.S. Customs and Border Protection say that these are isolated incidents and mistakes that do not reflect government policy, advocates say that this has happened on multiple occasions, adding even more difficulty and confusion to an already challenging asylum process.

The widespread political discussion focusing on crackdowns on undocumented immigrants, visa denials and stricter asylum guidelines may cause many individuals to worry about their own status in the United States. An immigration attorney may provide you with advice and guidance as well as craft an effective deportation defense.