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New U.S.-Mexico asylum plan confuses many

In December 2018, the United States and Mexico announced a new immigration plan that will allow many asylum seekers to stay in Mexico until their immigration cases are heard by a judge. However, few details have been released about the plan, leaving immigration officials in Florida and elsewhere confused about how to proceed.

The new immigration policy was announced in a joint statement by U.S. Homeland Security and the Mexican government, but the statement did not provide any details about how the policy would work. For example, it is unclear how Mexico will house thousands of migrants from Central America while they await their immigration hearings. This process could take years, as more than 800,000 immigration cases are currently backlogged in U.S. immigration courts. Meanwhile, the head of the National Association of Immigration Judges said that U.S. immigration judges have not been provided any information about how the new policy will impact them, including any details on how cases will be distributed across the nation's 60 immigration courts.

Under the current system, asylum seekers undergo a "credible fear" interview with an official from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to determine if they may have a valid asylum claim. If they pass this interview, they are released within the U.S. and assigned to a court in the jurisdiction they choose to live. If asylum seekers will now be housed in Mexico, it is unclear how and where judges will hear cases.

Asylum seekers may find it helpful to retain the services of a U.S. immigration law attorney as quickly as possible. The attorney could review the case, prepare all necessary applications and attend all hearings with a client. If a client has been detained, the attorney could work to obtain his or her release.

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