asylum

For a moment, Jesus thought his ordeal was coming to an end. Three months after fleeing Venezuela, he got his chance to tell a judge how he and his mother escaped political persecution.

"The judge asked me three questions," Jesus said in Spanish through an interpreter. "What's your nationality? Why did you leave your country? Why can't you go back?"

It was never easy for migrants to win asylum cases in U.S. immigration courts. But now, it's nearly impossible.

Out of tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived at the southern border in recent months, just 117 have been granted protection by a judge. That's according to the latest immigration court data released Thursday by the TRAC Immigration project at Syracuse University.

Alexis Martinez, a Honduran man who traveled with his two young sons to seek asylum in the United States, last saw them holding hands, their faces streaked with tears, bravely walking across the Gateway International Bridge into Texas — alone.

After weeks in a makeshift refugee camp in the Mexican border town of Matamoros, Martinez knew he had to send 5-year-old Benjamin and 7-year-old Osiel without him. Benjamin had contracted bronchial pneumonia, and Martinez couldn't afford any more antibiotics.

To stem the flow of migrants across the southern border, the Trump administration is sending tens of thousands of asylum-seekers back to Mexico to await their day in U.S. immigration court — including some pregnant women.

Updated 6 p.m. ET

Immigrant advocates asked a federal appeals court on Tuesday to block the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a key part of President Trump's immigration policy. The policy forces asylum seekers to wait for their immigration court hearings in Mexico.

The Trump administration will no longer allow migrant families apprehended at the border to enter the U.S. under the immigration policy commonly known as "catch and release."

The policy change was announced Monday by Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan in remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C.

Updated at 9:40 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration may curtail asylum applications at the southern border while a legal challenge to the new rule is litigated in court.

Ohio is far from the U.S. southern border, but the policies and practices there are playing out here daily. The Cleveland Immigration Court has a caseload numbering in the thousands. Ohio jails and private prisons are collecting millions of dollars to house immigrants. And immigrant families who have lived in Ohio for years are planning their departures. Ohio is playing a big role in the national immigration debate.

Attorney General William Barr ruled Monday that immigrants fearing persecution because of threats against their family members are no longer eligible for asylum.

The case involves a Mexican man (identified as "L-E-A" in court documents) who sought asylum after his family was threatened because his father did not allow drug cartel dealers to use his store for business. That fear of endangerment traditionally has been the basis for legally recognizable claims for asylum.

Updated 8:05 p.m. ET

Hours after a federal judge on the East Coast refused to block a Trump administration rule requiring most asylum-seekers to ask for protection in another country before they try to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, a judge on the West Coast put a stop to the new policy.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction against the controversial rule unveiled by the White House and applied on a "pilot" basis last week.

The Trump administration has implemented its strongest effort yet to curb asylum claims, but an internal memo shows that U.S. asylum officers weren't briefed until just hours before the sweeping immigration rule went into effect Tuesday.

At first, the boy running around this migrant shelter in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, appears to be just like any other 8-year-old: Skinny, shy, giggly. You don't even notice his glass eye.

But it's a constant source of worry for his family, who fled Guatemala earlier this year. The boy, Jonathan, lost his eye to a tumor when he was a toddler. Now he needs medicine to keep the eye clean.

"It's a very delicate sickness, very complicated," said his father Giovani, speaking in Spanish through an interpreter. "He needs checkups frequently by medical specialists in the hospital."

Ohio U.S. Senator Rob Portman
J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

After making a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border last week, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on Wednesday discussed his proposals to relieve crowded detention facilities.

Updated at 3:35 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is moving forward with a tough new asylum rule in its campaign to slow the flow of Central American migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Asylum-seeking immigrants who pass through a third country en route to the U.S. must first apply for refugee status in that country rather than at the U.S. border.

The restriction will likely face court challenges, opening a new front in the battle over U.S. immigration policies.

For thousands of migrants, their journey to the United States has been derailed in northern Mexico border cities under a U.S. program called Migrant Protection Protocols. With shelters overflowing and work unavailable, they create a home wherever they can.

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