Migrant Protection Protocols

Our 100th Blog will discuss Migrant Protection Protocols. On January 24, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security’s Secretary, Kirstjen M. Nielson, released the following statement in furtherance of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, “We have implemented an unprecedented action that will address the urgent humanitarian and security crisis at the Southern border. This humanitarian approach will help to end the exploitation of our generous immigration laws. The Migrant Protection Protocols represent a methodical commonsense approach, exercising long-standing statutory authority to help address the crisis at our Southern border.” 

What is this New Policy?

Throughout the last year, the Trump administration has increased its efforts in preventing individuals from seeking protection under U.S. asylum laws. Under these new Migrant Protection Protocols, or “MPP,” individuals who enter the United States illegally or without proper documentation will be returned to Mexico while they wait for their day in immigration court to explain their case.

How Does this New Policy Impact U.S. Immigration Processing?

As most people may know by now, immigration courts are severely backlogged due to a number of factors, like the government shutdown, having a limited number of immigration judges to hear cases efficiently, and having new policies implemented which further delay the timing for individuals to receive immigration benefits.

What is the Impact of this New Policy on Asylum Seekers?

The purpose of asylum is to seek protection and safe harbor in the United States. In order to qualify for asylum under current U.S. immigration laws (with or without legal documentation) an individual may present themselves at the U.S. border and request protection from the U.S. because of the individual’s well-founded fear of returning to their home country. The Migrant Protection Protocols program attempts to keep asylum seekers out of the United States while their case is pending.

Ironically, the MPP program may be creating the same problems for asylum seekers by forcing them to wait on the Mexican border while their cases are pending and by increasing the costs of administering asylum for the Mexican government, potentially creating a more dangerous border. In many recent instances under this newer policy, current asylum seekers must wait years at the Mexican border before their case can be heard in a U.S. immigration court.

The average time for an applicant’s asylum application to be processed, for interviews to be conducted, and for asylum to be granted is between three to four years. This is an incredibly long time for any applicant to wait and with an ever-increasing backlog of asylum cases every year, the average wait for an applicant could take longer.

The process for applying for asylum can be confusing and complicated. It is important to consult with an immigration attorney in order to determine your eligibility and to ensure that your application is in good order before it is submitted for review by the USCIS. The attorneys at Gilles Law, PLLC are here to assist with your inquiries.