Every year hundreds of thousands of people are forced to leave their home country looking for a better life. One of the most suitable countries to start a new life is the United States of America.
Getting a political asylum in the USA isn’t easy. The number of visa refusals is growing every year. One of the ways out is to apply for political asylum at the state border – Mexican-American or Canadian-American.
Only holders of a Canadian visa can get to the border between the United States and Canada, which is almost as difficult to obtain as an American one. But with neighboring Mexico in this regard, everything is much simpler.
Things to take care of before flying to Mexico
Seeking political asylum across the Mexican-American border is a very serious step that requires significant costs, both material and moral. For getting a political asylum in the USA, you need to complete several steps. You can listen to hundreds of stories and read a dozen articles of those who managed to obtain asylum in this way. But each case is unique. And it is not at all a fact that the advice voiced will be useful for you, and indeed applicable.
Therefore, even at the planning stage of the idea of obtaining asylum through Mexico, it is better to use the professional help of an immigration lawyer. He will expertly provide answers to many questions, from preparing a compelling story and collecting supporting documents to filling out the necessary immigration forms. The lawyer will assist in the prompt exit from the immigration center, and can also represent the interests of the applicant during the trial.
In particular, a US immigration attorney will help determine in the following areas:
- An assessment of the overall chances of obtaining political asylum based on the applicant’s existing history;
- Collecting convincing evidence about a real threat to life and health in the home country;
- A list of documents that you need to have with you, as well as those that will be required after crossing the border and the methods of their delivery to the United States;
- Competently filling out all the necessary immigration forms following the constantly changing requirements of the USCIS immigration service;
- The composition of the family whose members will be applied for political asylum in the same case as the main applicant;
- The way to the border, as well as the choice of the most suitable checkpoint;
- Issues related to the guarantor and the posting of a deposit to leave the immigration center.
What you need to know about the Mexican-American border?
The Mexican-American border is considered one of the most hectic in the world. About 500 thousand people cross it illegally every year. The United States of America neighbors Mexico for almost 3,150 km. Most of this distance falls on lifeless deserts and rugged mountainous regions. It is through these places that the bulk of illegal migrants rushes to the United States, quite often it costs them their lives.
On flat terrain, the two countries are separated by huge defenses made of concrete and metal. Infrared motion sensors are located throughout the border, and unmanned aerial vehicles are operating.
Four American states have a border with Mexico: Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Large cities located on their territory have “twins” on the other side of the border.
There are about 60 checkpoints along the border. To apply for political asylum, you need to go to any border checkpoint and declare your request to an American officer.
How to get to the Mexican-American border from Mexico City?
In theory, there are two options here: ground transportation and air transportation. Bus routes run almost throughout the country. Mexican buses are quite comfortable, and the quality of the main highways is not satisfactory. And yet, just looking at the map, it becomes clear that the idea of taking the bus is not justified.
Domestic flights are relatively inexpensive in Mexico and can be used to travel to all major border cities. It makes sense to choose a checkpoint of one of the “twin cities” to be on American territory. These are Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Juarez, Nogales, Mexicali, Tijuana. An experienced immigration lawyer will advise in real-time which city is the best to go to.
At the same time, you can buy a ticket for a domestic flight even before arriving in Mexico – via the Internet.
It should be borne in mind that people arriving in border towns to get a political asylum in the USA are subject to scrutiny from the police. When asked about the purpose of the visit, it is best to answer that you have arrived to solve business problems, i.e. on business. An official dress code and a folder with documents in hand will be a good guarantor of the absence of complaints from local authorities.
If you plan to look around the city and spend the night at the hotel, then it is better to book a room in advance. And from the airport take a taxi straight to the hotel.
The border cities of Mexico are a very unfortunate place, all of them are a key stage in the transfer of illegal immigrants to the United States and the unquenchable flow of drug traffic. Therefore, it is better not to appear on the street at night. Even during the day, you should be very careful and carefully monitor your documents, money, and electronic gadgets.
How to behave on the border with the USA
Getting to the checkpoint at the border will not be difficult. You just need to take into account that at some large checkpoints there is a delimitation of flows – separate vehicles, separately people crossing the border on foot on huge pedestrian bridges. They will have different entrances, sometimes at a distance of 1-1.5 km.
As a rule, from the Mexican side, no control of Caucasians crossing the border is carried out. Mexican border guards inspect and verify documents only from Hispanics. Therefore, you can safely follow with all your belongings to the American side of the border.
Next, you have to go through passport control, where the officer will ask for a passport and notify you of the absence of a US visa, and, therefore, the inability to cross the border. This is the very time when you need to communicate your intention to apply for political asylum in the United States.
It happens that checkpoints are overcrowded, so the officer asks to wait. The wait can take 10-15 hours.
Ultimately, asylum seekers are registered, screened, and placed in a special isolation center. It should be noted that women and men are kept separately there. However, women are never separated from their children under the age of 14.
Stay at the immigration center
From the border zone, asylum seekers are assigned to immigration centers (deportation isolation wards).
Some immigration centers are located right on the border. But if they are overcrowded, then the applicant for political asylum can even be transferred to another state.
It may happen that the delivery of a person to the immigration center will be carried out like a criminal – with handcuffs and shackles. Morally, this is a rather difficult process.
Therefore, the advice of an immigration lawyer regarding the choice of a not too busy checkpoint with the most loyal staff would be quite useful.
Immigration centers differ significantly from each other in terms of detention. Some of them even have televisions in their cameras. And some are so overcrowded that several dozen people have to huddle for some time in one room.
Three meals a day are provided in the deportation isolation ward. All personal belongings, including clothes, are described and taken away; they can only be obtained when leaving the center.
If a person had money with him, then they are automatically credited to a special account. It is accessed using a bracelet or card. These funds can be used to purchase food, hygiene products, and other small household goods in a stall on the territory of the migration-center.
Each of those in the center has the right to call. A few minutes of conversation will be free, then you will have to pay for the connection.
Since you will not have a notebook at hand, you need to know the phone number of an immigration lawyer or friend who is ready to become a surety or post bail.
You can work in the immigration center. These are usually jobs as a cleaner or kitchen assistant. Payment for such work is scanty – no more than $ 2 per day.
In some centers, it is possible to visit the library and keep fit in the gym.
On behalf of the applicant for political asylum, the immigration lawyer can negotiate with the administration of the deportation center about the conditions of detention.
The immigration center undergoes biometrics (fingerprinting and photographing).
As a rule, the waiting period for interviews of women with children is several times less than for men. The same applies to fathers with children in the absence of a mother. A competent application from an immigration lawyer greatly increases the likelihood that they will be released with minimal bail, or even without it.
Interview with USCIS Immigration Officer
After some time, the petitioner for political asylum was summoned for an interview with an immigration officer. Here you need to tell your story in detail and justify the need for asylum in the United States. An interpreter will be provided for those who do not speak English.
The time spent in an immigration center directly depends on the credibility of the story told. This is where the help of an immigration lawyer comes in handy. His good speech with strong reasoning will not only speed up the release but help reduce the amount of bail. Also, the very presence of a lawyer at an interview is a very effective means of deterring an immigration officer from aggressive bias.
Guarantor or pledge
At the end of the interview or sometime after it, a notification is received with information about whether the applicant can leave the immigration center and under what conditions (surety, bail).
The amount of the bail depends on how much the immigration judge believed in the story set out, how weighty the arguments and convincing evidence of discrimination, threats, harassment at home are. It can be either $ 1,000 or all of $ 20,000.
They can also be released from the immigration center under the guarantees of the guarantor. Any United States citizen or person with a Green Card can be a sponsor. At the same time, the person acting as a surety must have a permanent job and own or rent housing.
If it didn’t work out either with bail or with a surety, chances are good to stay in the center until the immigration court, and then return to your homeland.
What to do after leaving the immigration center?
Control over people leaving the immigration center differs from state to state. For example, in California, a person is given a GPS bracelet that can be used to find out the whereabouts of an asylum seeker at any time. However, an immigration lawyer can assist in the absence of such a control measure. In some states, an asylum seeker must periodically check in with the immigration office.
The next stage after the person has left the immigration center is waiting for the immigration court. It is rather difficult to predict how long such an expectation will last. The immigration service is simply inundated with cases of asylum seekers.
While awaiting trial, it is best to discuss your story with a lawyer again. Perhaps somewhere it will be possible to strengthen it with evidence. The main thing is not to forget what was stated in the interview at the immigration center. The immigration judge will pay attention to even minor inconsistencies.
And four months after the interview, you can apply for a work permit.
Get a political refugee in the USA – Immigration court
At the trial, the immigration judge once again hears all the circumstances of the case. As a rule, a prosecutor is present at the meeting, who raises the question of deportation. If the interests of the applicant who want to get a political asylum in the USA are represented by an immigration attorney, then he/she also acts. The help of a lawyer is especially important in a poorly drafted case of documents, in which case the lawyer can focus the judge’s attention on the strengths of the evidence presented.
The result will not be known immediately. If it is positive, then the person receives an official document confirming the provision of political asylum. It makes it possible to legally stay and work in the United States.
If a refusal is received, it can be appealed within a month. Then another meeting will be scheduled. If the appeal is not followed, then the person will be deported. Not to Mexico, but your home country.
Getting a political asylum in the USA across the Mexican border is not an easy task. It is important to remember that often in this process it will be impossible to change the wrong actions. Reckless actions at the border, ignorance of the situation in the immigration center or naive misconceptions about bail and surety, lack of documents, and rash statements during an interview with an immigration officer can lead to refusal of political asylum.
You should not rely on luck in an issue where every little thing matters. It is much more correct to contact a specialist who knows firsthand how best to act at every stage of this path. This will greatly increase the chances of a positive outcome of the case.