Some Florida residents may have heard about a new policy that involves sending asylum seekers back to Mexico to await a decision on their fate. Thousands of people have been sent back across the border. Many are from Cuba and Central America, while others are from Peru and Cameroon.
Migrants are being sent to Tamaulipas state, which has a high incidence of gang activity, kidnapping and other violence. The U.S. State Department warns against travel in the area. Asylum seekers who are fearful of their safety are leaving the area or camping near a downtown bridge because the National Guard and police are there. There are shelters in the town that are far from capacity, but the word spreading among migrants is that the shelters are full. Others said they were not informed of a shelter's existence or of how to get there.
The program to return migrants started in January and has continued to expand along the border. Some of the asylum seekers have filed applications and are awaiting court dates while others are on a list of over 1,000 names and are waiting to be called. It is unclear how some will return for their court date. Mexican officials say they will provide shelter and opportunities for work for the migrants.
The process of seeking asylum can be stressful and complex, and the changing policies can make it even more complicated. People may qualify for asylum if they can demonstrate that they have a credible fear of returning to their own country based on their race, religion, national origin or other characteristics. An attorney might be able to help with preparing the asylum application, court appearances and appeals if necessary.