Residents in border states like Arizona will likely be aware that President Donald Trump has taken aggressive steps in recent weeks to address an immigration situation that he has described as a national emergency. In late May, Trump said that he would impose tariffs on goods imported from Mexico if the Mexican government does not take action to stop immigrant caravans at the Guatemalan border. Just a day later, immigration officials announced that measures designed to protect children seeking asylum in the United States are being curtailed.

The protections, which were implemented during the Obama administration, allow unaccompanied minors to make their cases for asylum before officials from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services instead of in court. If their petitions are denied, they are given a second chance at asylum in front of an immigration judge. The rules were put into place to spare emotionally damaged children the trauma of court proceedings. Immigration officials say that these considerations will no longer be offered to unaccompanied minors who turn 18 before their asylum cases are heard or to children who are reunited with family members while in federal custody.

The president says that harsh measures are called for because Mexico is doing little to help and Congress has refused to act. While this is seen as political theater by many, figures suggest that a real human crisis is developing. Since October 2018, agents from the U.S. Border Patrol have apprehended more than 40,000 unaccompanied minors.

Asylum claims are often treated with suspicion because many petitioners are not able to establish a credible fear of persecution based on religion, national origin, political opinions, or race. Attorneys with experience in U.S. immigration law could help asylum seekers to find credible threat evidence that immigration judges may find persuasive.

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