Advocates say most migrants are not prepared to make case for asylum in court

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SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Migrant officials in Tijuana say that approximately one-third of asylum-seekers now crossing the border will actually get asylum in the United States.

Enrique Lucero, director of the Migrant Affairs Office in Tijuana, said stated many migrants are ill-prepared to present a case in front of a judge in a U.S. immigration court.


“Many migrants don’t have enough evidence, don’t show up for their cases or don’t have an attorney to provide adequate guidance,” said Lucero. “They will be deported or asked to leave the country, and if they stay without permission and commit a crime, they’ll be expelled after finishing out their sentences.”

Migrant advocates north of the border also know that for migrants, asylum is not as easy as it seems.

Pedro Rios, director of the San Diego-based American Friends Service Committee, believes the 66-percent rejection figure in court is too low.”

“I actually would expect it to be higher, just because the thresholds to get asylum is much more complicated now,” said Rios.

Rios stated many migrants rely on the fact they may be from regions of the world engulfed in strife, but it’s often not enough.

“Even though they might’ve experienced something themselves, it may not be sufficient in order to present a successful asylum claim, which means then they would be returned to their country of origin.”

Rios also told Border Report that most migrants who get rejected fail to have adequate legal representation in court.

“You need someone that’s savvy enough to know how to navigate the immigration court system, how to understand the technicalities to be able to put forth a successful asylum claim,” he said. “For someone who might not understand the culture of immigration court it will be much more difficult for them to make the argument that they should stay in the United States.”

Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC, which monitors immigration cases, recently updated asylum decisions dating back to 2001. It found that of the 755,274 asylum cases, about 43% of the cases were granted asylum or some other form of relief. However, as of September 2023, more than 84% of those migrants who did not have representation were denied asylum.

Rios also cautioned that many incorrectly assume migrants who get rejected in court will remain in the U.S. to fade into the shadows of society.

“Most people are actually about presenting themselves to immigration court because they do believe that they have strong cases,” he said. “It’s at that point then where if the case is rejected, they might be apprehended or they might be told to show up at a certain date in order to turn themselves in for removal — immigration authorities know where people live, they have all of their information, information about their sponsors, their relatives, so it’s really difficult for someone to evade authorities once they’re in the system.”

According to Lucero, Mexico’s Institute of Migration is receiving 6,000 to 7,000 migrants per month in Tijuana who had been living in the United States.

Lucero would not go as far as to say all the people coming back had their asylum claims rejected.

“They just got into a bind and were forced to leave the U.S.”

According to the American Immigration Council, asylum may be granted if a person can prove they will be persecuted back home due to:

  • Race



  • Religion



  • Nationality



  • Membership in a particular social group



  • Political opinion or affiliation



  • Sexual orientation

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