Asylum

Local Governments Bear Burden of Migrants Dumped by Border Patrol

By Peek & Toland on November 26, 2019

According to a USA Today article, Border Patrol officers are increasingly dumping large numbers of migrants in border towns, including many in Texas. The large influx of migrants is leaving local governments no choice but to spend their own funds to support them.

For example, Border Patrol has delivered more than 31,000 migrants seeking asylum to San Antonio. Due to its location 150 miles from the Mexican border, the city had never dealt with a large influx of migrants and thus did not have the resources to deal with them. As a result, the city has spent more than $540,000 in local funds establishing a migrant processing center. They also provide food, medical screening, cell phones for migrants to contact U.S. relatives, and overnight shelter in partnership with local churches.

Local Governments Bear Burden of Migrants Dumped by Border Patrol

San Antonio is not the only government entity having no choice but to expend local funds to feed and house migrants. Border Patrol has delivered more than 7,500 migrants to Deming, New Mexico, which has a population of only 14,000. Likewise, San Diego County has spent $2.7 million in the first eight months of 2019 on food, medical care, and transportation for over 17,000 migrants, in addition to housing them on county property. Albuquerque, New Mexico, already was struggling to deal with a homeless population of 4,000 before Border Patrol dropped off another 4,000 migrants.

The USA Today in-depth review of the situation revealed that local communities spent at least seven million dollars over the past year to handle the influx of migrants dumped on their doorsteps by Border Patrol. Communities leaders believe they have a moral duty to care for the migrants who are largely homeless, penniless, and sick from being detained in poor conditions. Nonetheless, leaders across the political spectrum have expressed frustration over the unfunded mandate that the Trump Administration’s immigration policies at the border have created.

Our goal is to assist you with your immigration concerns, whether family or business-based. We can evaluate your situation and develop a strategy that is most likely to be efficient and effective in your case. Regardless of the immigration matter that you are facing, the attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience, knowledge, and reputation that you want and need to advocate on your behalf. When results matter most, contact us at (512) 474-4445.

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Trump Administration Reaches Asylum Deal with Honduras

By Peek & Toland on November 21, 2019

The Trump Administration has created yet another barrier in its quest to make seeking asylum in the U.S. more difficult for migrants. Recently, The Trump Administration signed an agreement with Honduras that could require asylum-seekers traveling through Honduras to apply for asylum in that country, rather than the U.S. The Administration signed a similar deal with El Salvador shortly before its agreement with Honduras, as well as a comparable agreement with Guatemala in July 2019. None of these agreements have gone into effect yet, but would affect any migrants traveling through those countries to the U.S., whether seeking protection under asylum laws or the Convention Against Torture, a United Nations treaty.

Collectively, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala are the three countries that produce the most migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. at the Mexican border. Under each of these three agreements, the U.S. ostensibly can send migrants back to these countries if the migrants did not first apply for asylum in those countries when they traveled through them. However, the exact terms of these agreements are still unclear.

Trump Administration Reaches Asylum Deal with Honduras

Another point that is not clear is why Honduras would agree to such a deal. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez currently is facing prosecution in the U.S. after being accused of accepting campaign contributions from drug traffickers. The other curious element of these agreements is all three countries have extremely high rates of poverty, crime, and corruption, which calls into question the ability of these countries to keep migrants safe from harm. Although the U.S. supposedly plans to help the countries increase their capacity to safely accept asylum-seekers, current conditions would make it nearly impossible to guarantee the safety of migrants whom they accepted.

No matter the type of immigration issue you are facing, the skilled and knowledgeable immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland are here to assist you. We handle many different types of immigration cases every day and have the kind of strategic experience and skills that are necessary to reach the desired outcome. By calling our office as quickly as possible after your legal issue arises, we will have the best opportunity to resolve your immigration law case successfully.

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National Association of Immigration Judges President Slams Tent Courts

By Peek & Toland on November 19, 2019

Under the Trump Administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which went into effect earlier this year, immigration officials have returned more than 45,000 migrants to Mexico to await asylum hearings. As a result, thousands of asylum-seekers have simply given up on their claims rather than risk the violence inherent in living in Mexican border towns.

Furthermore, in Laredo and Brownsville, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has enacted “tent courts” outside of the ports of entry. DHS has banned the public and the press from the proceedings held in these tent courts, which occur with an immigration judge presiding over cases by video teleconference. For journalists and members of the public to view these hearings, they must travel to the courts where the judges conducting the hearings are located.

According to one reporter for the Texas Observer who attended some of these hearings, many migrants simply did not appear in court as scheduled. Others pleaded to not be returned to Mexico, where they had been assaulted. Most migrants were confused, unclear about how to file for asylum, with very few migrants being represented by attorneys. Even worse, major translation errors seemed to plague the hearings, which migrants often unable to understand the judge.

National Association of Immigration Judges President Slams Tent Courts

As a result of these hearings, immigration judge and president of the National Association of Immigration Judges Ashley Tabbador has publicly denounced the tent courts. She pointed out several issues with MPP and the resulting court hearings, including:

  • Caseloads too large to handle and too many hearings scheduled at one time
  • Migrants overwhelmingly unable to access legal assistance
  • No addresses for migrants to send them correspondence about their cases
  • Tent court hearings run by prosecutors rather than by immigration judges, who are not even physically present for the hearings
  • No accountability to the public by conducted closed proceedings

The immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the immigration cases of countless individuals and businesses facing immigration-related issues. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf to get the outcome that you are seeking. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our immigration attorneys.

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Federal Court Finds Trump Administration Asylum Ban Violates INA

By Peek & Toland on September 29, 2019

According to a recent CNN article, a federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled that a Trump Administration policy violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). In this policy, the Administration sought to bar immigrants who had crossed the border without authorization from seeking asylum. The Trump Administration issued the policy back in November 2018, which would have limited asylum applications to those immigrants who lawfully presented themselves at official ports of entry into the U.S. According to the judge’s opinion, the federal government could not extinguish a statutory right to seek asylum under the INA simply by issuing a policy.

A nationwide injunction that prohibited the policy from going into effect has been in place since a California federal judge issued it last year. The federal government appealed the injunction to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high Court refused to stay the injunction by a 5-4 vote. So as a practical matter, the D.C. judge’s decision ultimately follows the injunction already in effect.

Federal Court Finds Trump Administration Asylum Ban Violates INA

This policy has been one of many that the Trump Administration has attempted to enact to significantly restrict the ability to apply for asylum, especially for Central American migrants. For instance, the Administration has expanded a policy designed to keep more asylum seekers in Mexico until their cases are processed. The federal government now has limited the number of asylum seekers who can enter a port of entry each day for processing of their asylum applications. The Trump Administration also attempted to deny asylum to all migrants who traveled through another country to reach a U.S. port of entry and to require them to first seek asylum in another country before coming to the U.S. These policies were specifically aimed at individuals traveling through Mexico from South America.

A California federal district court judge also entered a nationwide injunction regarding the requirement that migrants seek asylum in another country before seeking it in the U.S. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals limited the injunction to California and Arizona. On remand, the federal district court judge reinstated the nationwide ban after making the findings outlined in the Ninth Circuit order. However, most recently, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the injunction pending litigation, which allows the federal government to go forward with denying asylum to this specific group of immigrants.

An experienced Texas immigration attorney can help you with all aspects of immigration law. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case and present your options. Finally, we can help you make the decisions that will be most beneficial to you, based on your circumstances. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

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Federal Judge Blocks Trump Administration Mandatory Detention Policy for Asylum-Seekers

By Peek & Toland on September 19, 2019

In April, Attorney General William Barr announced that the federal government would no longer offer bond hearings to detained immigrants. The new policy was aimed at the surge of immigrants appearing at the border to apply for asylum. Historically, individuals who passed the initial credible fear interview then applied for asylum and were released pending their court date.

Under the new policy, however, these individuals would remain detained until an immigration court heard their asylum claims. Barr stated that this policy would go into effect on July 15, 2019. The net result of the policy would be to keep between 15,000 and $40,000 immigrants in custody for six months or more while their asylum claims played out in the immigration courts.

Immigrant advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, immediately filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit to block the policy. These organizations claim that the move violates the Fifth Amendment right to due process. A federal judge in Seattle now has ruled that immigrants who enter the country seeking asylum are entitled by the U.S. Constitution to have a bond hearing.

Federal Judge Blocks Trump Administration Mandatory Detention Policy for Asylum-Seekers

Typically, about half of asylum-seekers gain release on bond. To do so, they must prove to the immigration court that they are not a flight risk and pose no threat to the public. When asylum-seekers are released on bond, they may be able to reunite with family members and may have a better chance of obtaining legal counsel. These factors often make a significant difference in the outcome of an asylum claim.

No matter the type of immigration issue you are facing, the skilled and knowledgeable immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland are here to assist you. We handle many different types of immigration cases every day and have the kind of strategic experience and skills that are necessary to reach the desired outcome. By calling our office as quickly as possible after your legal issue arises, we will have the best opportunity to resolve your immigration law case successfully.

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U.S. Ships Border-Crossing Immigrants to Other Cities for Timely Processing

By Peek & Toland on August 16, 2019

The Trump administration has taken the unprecedented step of sending immigrants who have crossed the border without authorization to other cities for processing at a rate of about 3,000 per week. As U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials struggle to keep up with the continuing surge of migrants, they are flying and busing thousands of immigrants to other locations. These sites include San Diego and Del Rio, Texas, as well as El Centro, California, and Laredo, Texas. Processing of immigrants at the new location consists of taking photographs and fingerprints and completing background checks and health screenings.

CBP is required to process immigrants within 72 hours of their arrival. At no time in history has CBP had to send immigrants to other locations due to an inability to process them within the 72-hour timeframe. They also have insufficient space to house the immigrants, which is available in other places. Most immigrants being sent elsewhere are coming from Rio Grande Valley, Texas, and Yuma, Arizona. Some CBP officials claim that the Trump administration also is considering sending the influx of immigrants to other locations in the U.S., including Florida, Detroit, and Buffalo, New York.

The exact number of immigrants being sent elsewhere is unknown. However, CBP reportedly is sending five planes per week to Del Rio and three planes per week to San Diego. Each plane holds approximately 130 immigrants. Four buses with about 47 passengers travel to Laredo every day. Likewise, vans carrying about 125 per day are driving El Centro.

U.S. Ships Border-Crossing Immigrants to Other Cities for Timely Processing

Although this change in logistics usually would be part of a plan approved by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the White House, CBP and ICE appear to have taken control of this venture out of sheer necessity. The immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the immigration cases of countless individuals and businesses facing immigration-related issues. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf to get the outcome that you are seeking. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our immigration attorneys.

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Trump Administration Considering New Plan to Make Many Immigrants Ineligible to Seek Asylum

By Peek & Toland on August 8, 2019

According to a recent article from The Hill, the Trump administration is considering a new immigration plan that would block immigrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. if they had resided in a country other than their home country prior to seeking asylum. This proposal is aimed at making the thousands of Central American migrants who have been traveling to enter the U.S. through the southern border with Mexico in recent months completely ineligible for asylum. Reportedly, the Trump administration is seeking ways either to implement this proposal legislatively or through an administrative rule, although both likely are to become the subject of litigation.

Trump Administration Considering New Plan to Make Many
Immigrants Ineligible to Seek Asylum

This proposed change closely accompanies the controversial “stay in Mexico” or “safe third country” policy for asylum-seekers, which is aimed at forcing individuals seeking asylum to remain in Mexico while the U.S. processes their asylum claims. For its part, the Mexican government apparently has agreed to this proposal, promising to expand a program that requires migrants to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are pending.

Experts have criticized these moves as a fundamental reshaping of the U.S. asylum system, in direct contravention to the definitions established for asylum and refugee status by the U.N. in its 1951 convention, which the U.S. signed in the 1967 protocol and later adopted as part of American immigration laws in the Refugee Act of 1980. By requiring asylum-seekers to remain outside the U.S. or declaring them ineligible for asylum before they even apply, the Trump administration is not only changing definitions in U.S. law without legislation, but also drastically reducing the number of people who would become eligible for asylum. Our goal is to assist you with your immigration concerns, whether family or business-based. We can evaluate your situation and develop a strategy that is most likely to be efficient and effective in your case. Regardless of the immigration matter that you are facing, the attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience, knowledge, and reputation that you want and need to advocate on your behalf. When results matter most, contact us at (512) 474-4445.

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Asylum Seekers File Class Action Lawsuit Over Indefinite Detention

By Peek & Toland on August 6, 2019

The Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana have teamed up to file a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Trump administration, alleging that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) categorically has denied release to individuals who have presented themselves lawfully at official points of entry seeking asylum in the U.S. Although DHS policy requires the release of asylum seekers if they are able to establish their identities and that they are neither dangers nor flight risks, DHS nonetheless has categorically denied parole across the board to asylum-seekers, instead confining them in prisons in remote areas of Alabama and Louisiana.

Less than ten years ago, about 90 percent of asylum seekers meeting the legal requirements for parole were released pending their asylum proceedings in immigration court. In contrast, the New Orleans Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field office granted parole in 76 percent of cases in 2016 and 22 percent of cases in 2017. By 2018, this office granted parole to individuals in only two out of 130 cases, or less than two percent; the other 128 individuals remained in ICE custody.

The lawsuit also attacks the well-publicized dehumanizing conditions that exist in many for-profit immigration detention facilities. Given the high denial rates of parole for asylum-seekers in Louisiana, immigration advocates find it unsurprising that ICE has dramatically expanded its capacity to detain immigrants in Louisiana by entering into contracts with for-profit prison providers and busing in hundreds of asylum-seekers from other faraway points of entry.

Asylum Seekers File Class Action Lawsuit Over Indefinite Detention

This is the second lawsuit of its kind. Immigration advocacy groups filed a similar lawsuit in March 2018, making the same claims about ICE field offices in Detroit, El Paso, Los Angeles, Newark, and Philadelphia. Last year, a federal judge ordered ICE to follow its own policies in granting parole to asylum-seekers. Whatever your situation may be, you will need skilled legal assistance to work toward a resolution of your immigration matter. The Texas immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland know how to help you navigate through the maze of immigration forms, regulations, and policies, and get the relief that you need. Take the first step today and secure the future of your family in the U.S. Contact our office today at and set up an evaluation with one of our highly skilled Texas immigration lawyers.

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U.S. Tightens Restrictions on Ability of Migrant Children to Apply for Asylum

By Peek & Toland on August 3, 2019

Reuters recently reported that the U.S. is taking steps to limit the number of unaccompanied minor children who qualify for special protections. Traditionally, these children have a right to make their claims to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer in a non-adversarial setting, rather than in front of an immigration judge in court. If the USCIS officer denies their claims, they then normally have a second chance to plead their cases  at immigration court.

In 2013, the Obama administration had issued a memorandum that extended these protections for immigrant children even if they turned 18 or reunited with a parent or relative prior to filing their asylum petition. The policy change was in recognition of the fact that many immigrant children are traumatized and it takes time for them to be able to explain their situation in a manner that will allow them to apply for asylum. The Trump administration has rescinded that memorandum, characterizing the guidance as a legal “loophole” in the asylum system. The rescission of the memo went into effect on June 30, 2019, reverting to a 2009 policy regarding unaccompanied minors.

U.S. Tightens Restrictions on Ability of Migrant Children to Apply for Asylum

USCIS is changing the definition of “unaccompanied minor” to include only those immigrant children who meet the following criteria when they file their petitions for asylum:

  • No lawful immigration status
  • Under the age of 18
  • No parent or legal guardian in the U.S. to care for them

Since many of these children are released to parents or guardians as quickly as possible, it is common for many of these children to be living with these individuals at the time of their asylum petition. Under the revised definition, individuals already living with sponsors would no longer qualify as unaccompanied minors, and therefore would not be eligible for the special protections offered to those children who fall within the revised definition. No matter the type of immigration issue you are facing, the skilled and knowledgeable immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland are here to assist you. We handle many different types of immigration cases every day and have the kind of strategic experience and skills that are necessary to reach the desired outcome. By calling our office as quickly as possible after your legal issue arises, we will have the best opportunity to successfully resolve your immigration law case.

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Attorney General Barr Overrides BIA Precedent to Expand Mandatory Detention for Those Seeking Asylum

By Peek & Toland on July 16, 2019

Attorney General William Barr has been following in the footsteps of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who certified a various Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) cases to himself for review. In this way, Sessions was able to shape immigration policy and overruling existing precedent. Recently, Barr decided a case entitled Matter of M-S-, which effectively overruled an existing precedent found in the case of Matter of X-K-. In M-S-, Barr issued a ruling that effects non-citizens transferred from expedited removal proceedings to regular removal proceedings after establishing the preliminary finding necessary to seek asylum or a credible fear of persecution or torture. In the decision, Barr determined on behalf of the BIA that these individuals are not entitled to release on bond, which subjects them to indefinite mandatory detention.

Attorney General Barr Overrides BIA Precedent to Expand
Mandatory Detention for Those Seeking Asylum

Before this ruling, individuals seeking asylum who met the preliminary credible fear finding often were released with their families and await their asylum hearing dates. Now, these individuals may remain indefinitely detained and separated from their families. Since asylum proceedings often can take years, mandatory detention without the opportunity to be released on bond could stretch for years, as well.

Additionally, the Trump Administration now is requiring that some individuals seeking asylum must remain in Mexico due to a lack of room in detention centers. This BIA decision, which requires more individuals to stay in detention indefinitely, only compounds the overcrowding problem. Less than two months following the issuance of the Matter of M-S- decision, the Office of the Inspector General advised that due to severe overcrowding in at least one Texas detention facility, it was recommending that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) take immediate action to address the overcrowding problem. The immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the cases of countless individuals and businesses who are facing all types of immigration concerns. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our immigration attorneys.

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