Florida residents are likely aware that individuals who enter the United States illegally face criminal prosecution, imprisonment and deportation, but they may not know that different rules apply when immigrants fear returning to their home countries. In these situations, immigrants are supposed to be referred to an asylum offer to determine whether their fears are legitimate, but a nonprofit human rights organization claims that this rule has been routinely flouted under the Donald Trump administration.
Human Rights First came to this conclusion after polling 39 defense attorneys and studying 700 prosecutions in eight federal courts. The group says that it identified multiple cases involving asylum seekers who were placed in groups facing expedited criminal charges. An HRF representative said that the study shows that immigrants of all types are branded as criminals under the current administration and treated accordingly.
While President Trump has made immigration reform and protecting the nation’s borders a top priority, the data reveals that those entering the United States have also been prosecuted in large numbers under previous administrations. Immigration cases accounted for about half of the federal criminal docket under President Obama, and the figures indicate that Trump may not be taking as harsh an approach as media headlines suggest. During the 2017 fiscal year, which includes the first eight months of Donald Trump’s presidency, federal immigration prosecutions declined by 14 percent.
Those hoping to start new lives in the United States may avoid criminal sanctions by seeking legal entry into the country. While the bureaucratic obstacles may seem formidable, attorneys with experience in this area could explain the various visa programs available to those who wish to work and live in America as well as the provisions in place to provide asylum to those fleeing persecution or war in their home countries.