For some Florida residents, emigration from Central America is a frequent topic of discussion. The iron gate at the border between Mexico and the United States is often the site of excessive wait times for those seeking asylum. Asylum seekers come to the U.S. border from throughout Central America for a variety of reasons. Many of them face domestic abuse or persecution in their home countries serious enough that they are willing to endure an arduous journey north. At the end of that journey, they may face wait times stretching on for days.
Many asylum seekers at the border are young families and women with children. International law requires that asylum officers give any asylum seeker a fair hearing, but this hearing is often a long time in coming. One young woman and her infant son waited at the gates for over two days before being granted a hearing. The officials at the border often declare that they are at capacity and that their ability to process newcomers is based on many factors.
The conditions in the no man’s land beyond the gate are not hospitable. There is little shelter and limited access to restrooms or food. One report described asylum seekers staying out on nothing but tarps and blankets in an open space with a large pot of food in the middle for all to share.
Each asylum seeker is given a “credible fear” interview. After the interview, the migrant may be held in a detention area pending a decision or released into the U.S. with a notice to appear before an immigration judge. It is critical for asylum seekers to be prepared for court and present their cases in a way most likely to gain a favorable judgment. This judgment may determine whether the asylum seeker is allowed to remain in the United States.