Immigrants hoping to seek US asylum face years-long legal delays in a troubled system | Media Pyro

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New York — Beberlyn and his family boarded the subway in midtown Manhattan before 4 a.m. in mid-October. They didn’t have a deal with federal immigration officials until 9 a.m., but he wanted to see his family.

When the family arrived at 4:40, dozens of immigrants were waiting outside the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Federal Plaza. By 8 o’clock, queues had formed with hundreds of pilgrims. It’s a scene that repeats itself every weekday in New York City, one of the main destinations for hundreds of thousands of immigrants released from US border detention centers in the past year.

Beberlyn, 33, an immigrant from Venezuela crossed the border into the US South with her husband, 15-year-old nephew, 12-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter in late August. He hopes ICE will give them an immigration court date so they can apply for asylum and work permits.

In fiscal year 2022, about 380,000 immigrants like Beberlyn were released by U.S. border officials under a humanitarian power known as parole and ordered to check in with ICE agencies nationwide. in the US to get a court date, according to government data. It’s a policy the Biden administration started last year to move immigrants out of Border Patrol detention centers more quickly, as court orders take longer.

But after they waited for hours in Manhattan, Beberlyn’s family was not given a court date. Instead, they were instructed to rejoin ICE on April 1, 2024. The family is now available. The US allowed them to stay in the country pending the resolution of their cases. But their detention expired on October 26 and because they are not in formal deportation proceedings in court, they cannot apply to a judge for asylum or apply for a work permit.

“We came here with doubts about progress, about work,” said Beberlyn, whose name is being withheld because his immigration case is pending. “I want to do it. My husband wants to do it. It’s not as easy as we thought. It’s kind of sad and difficult.”

The plight of Beberlyn and his family has become very visible for immigrants seeking asylum in the US Formally established in 1980 as a refuge for those fleeing persecution, the American asylum program has arrived. great stress in recent years amid record numbers of immigrants seeking asylum at the southern border and the failure of Congress to reform the system in two decades.

About 600 judges oversee nearly 2 million pending cases, including 750,000 asylum applications, in the U.S. immigration court system, according to federal data compiled by Syracuse University’s TRAC program. These numbers do not include immigrants like Beberlyn who have never been to court in the first place.

Due to caseloads and escalation, immigrants wait an average of 4.2 years for a hearing before an immigration judge, whose decisions can be appealed. Because U.S. law allows asylum seekers to obtain work permits 180 days after filing an asylum petition, they may have to wait years for an opportunity to work in the country. illegally or forced to work illegally and pay under the table.

Problems with the U.S. asylum system have intensified under the Biden administration, which has reported record incidents with immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Tens of thousands of immigrants came from countries like Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, where the U.S. cannot deport border-crossers under a pandemic law that is used to quickly return immigrants. Mexican and Central American immigrants.

Immigrants from Venezuela cross the Rio Grande
Border Patrol agents are targeting immigrants from Venezuela who will attempt to cross the US-Mexico border in September 2022.

Christian Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


In fiscal year 2022, there were more than 2.3 million arrivals and departures, a record high, although a large percentage involved transfers from the same people. While more than 1 million of those encounters were deported under the immigration ban known as Title 42, U.S. border officials processed 1.3 million immigrants under U.S. immigration law, which can they ask for asylum.

Theresa Cardinal Brown, a former immigration adviser in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, said the current asylum system appears to be hurting immigrants by trapping them in long-term law. It also prevents the U.S., he said, from deciding whether someone is eligible for asylum early, a motivation that could encourage immigrants who are weak or incompetent to use the system to stay. to the ground.

“It’s turning people into a system that’s constantly evolving,” said Cardinal Brown, who now serves as executive director of the Bipartisan Policy Center. “The asylum system has failed.”

Biden has an administrative district policy designed to tackle weak asylum claims has shown signs of success, rejecting 50% of asylum seekers at the first checkpoint and granting asylum to eligible immigrants within months instead of years. But the project has been implemented on a small scale since it was launched in June.

“It’s a very long process”

Beberlyn said her family’s migration began in 2016, after her sister was killed by soldiers in Táchira province. His family, including his sister’s son, immigrated to Colombia, joining the massive exodus of Venezuelans that have displaced more than 7 million people, the biggest crisis ever recorded in the West .

After living in Colombia for several years, Beberlyn said her family was uprooted again earlier this year after she filed a police complaint against a man she said abused her son and nephew. Beberlyn told him his family would be hurt if they didn’t flee: “We only had 24 hours to leave Colombia.”

Like tens of thousands of Venezuelans who traveled north last year, Beberlyn’s family traversed seven Latin American countries, crossing the unregulated jungle in Panama called the Darién Gap through the walk around the southern border of America.

“Our bodies are tired. Our legs are swollen. Four of my husband’s nails fell off; two of my nails also fell off,” she said, talking about the trip in the forest.

But Beberlyn said the difficult journey “was worth it.”

“Now I’m calm. I’m safe,” he added. “I don’t have to worry about the safety of my children.”

The Venezuelan family is staying in one of several hotels that New York City officials have turned into shelters for immigrants sent to Manhattan by Republican officials in Texas and the Democratic state of El Paso. The family has also received winter clothes.

Beberlyn’s daughter, Laidy, was enrolled in the public school on the Upper West Side where her son Emmanuel attends high school. His nephew, Daiberth, who is like his own son, also attends a public high school in Manhattan.

However, the family faced some problems in New York. Beberlyn’s husband, Melkin, said he worked on a construction project for two weeks, but only got paid for three days. Because Melkin has no legal rights, he said, there’s not much he can do.

While some Democrats and advocates say that allowing asylum seekers to work legally before immigration would prevent job theft and benefit the U.S. economy, advocates say it would encourage the illegal immigration.

When they returned from their ICE check-in in October, Daiberth helped carry Laidy’s stroller and demonstrated some of the English words she learned in school. He said he wanted to be “big” to play basketball in school. Meanwhile, Emmanuel said he hopes to see snow for the first time this winter.

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Beberlyn is pictured with her husband, children and niece after Beberlyn’s check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in New York City.

Camilo Montoya-Galvez


Beberlyn said her children learn English faster than her. But he is concerned about their immigration case. They don’t know when a court date will come. She and her husband cannot practice law. Without a family lawyer, data can increase your chances of winning asylum.

If the immigration judge determines that the family has not faced persecution or does not have a substantial fear of persecution based on their race, nationality, religion, political opinion or membership in a particular social group – the requirements under in US law – can be applied. reduce it.

“I have good luck,” Beberlyn said of the threats against her family. “But I’ve heard it could take a long time, even years. It’s a very long process, so we’ll have to wait.”

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