A series of new rules came into effect in August making it exponentially more difficult for asylum seekers to gain work authorization, as detailed in this piece by CBS News. W.L. is a single mother who fled sexual violence in Guatemala and is currently awaiting her asylum proceedings in the US with her two young children for whom she is struggling to provide in the face of a pandemic. Her difficulty in providing for her family was just prolonged with the implementation of the new rules meant to target asylum seekers who are already awaiting their asylum hearings in the U.S. The new rules state that asylum seekers in the U.S. are not eligible for employment until one year after filing for asylum, which replaces the 150-day filing date. Now, for a whole year, they will not have a legal way to earn an income. Additionally, there is no time frame under which the courts are expected to approve work authorization. Before, they had to do so within 30 days.
When asylum seekers claim asylum, they undergo a credible fear interview to demonstrate if they are being persecuted on grounds of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or belonging to a “particular social group.” These interviews have historically been carried out by Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), however, the Trump Administration has claimed that agents in Customs and Border Protection, which includes the Border Patrol, are fit to conduct such interviews. On August 31st, a federal judge literally wrote “poppycock” to that and cited that CBP agents, who undergo 2-5 weeks of training, do not possess the necessary credentials, and certainly not impartiality, to carry out such sensitive, matter-of-life-and-death interviews. Read more here.
In 2011, the government of Mexico approved funds to finance community and economic development projects in Central America and the Caribbean. These funds have given life to dozens of projects that help communities and countries extremely affected by forced migration due to lack of work, infrastructure, education, etc.. Last year, the Trump administration threatened to impose tariffs on Mexican imports unless Mexico contained the flow of migration. In response, President Lopez Obrador of Mexico modified the use of the funds to dedicate them to the immigration issue, a “clear distortion” of its objectives to comply with the demands of the U.S. government. With these funds, the Mexican government has facilitated several inhumane protocols from the United States, including receiving migrants who have been rapidly expelled and who are awaiting their U.S. court date. Read more here.