People who come to the United States as immigrants have hopes and dreams of a better life. Those hopes and dreams are sometimes shattered for immigrants who have flocked to this country without going through the proper channels. In the case of immigrants who are fleeing from the violence in Central America, great difficulties might be awaiting them on this side of the border.
Experts from the Texas Border Patrol say they are struggling to stay on top of the flood of immigrants who are attempting to enter the U.S., but they are running out of room for these individuals in area detention facilities. Authorities in the Rio Grande Valley say they have made about 160,000 arrests in the past eight months, which is a significant increase over last year. Many of those accused of illegal immigration are shuttled off to detention centers in Laredo and other areas, but overcrowding has become an increasingly serious concern.
Several immigrants from India have ended an extended hunger strike designed to protest their continued detention inside a Texas holding facility. The approximately three dozen Indians chose to pursue the hunger strike because they want their asylum cases to finally be addressed. The immigrants are being held indefinitely in a Texas Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a class-action lawsuit against the federal government, alleging that immigrants are being unfairly held in detention facilities against national policy. The suit alleges that federal officials are allowing the immigrants to languish in detention for months, even though regulations dictate that they should receive an initial decision about the legitimacy of their case within a 10-day period. That initial decision determines whether the immigrants have a reasonable fear of returning to their home country. A favorable ruling allows the immigrant to progress to the next stage in the application process for asylum protection in Texas and other states.
The scene is familiar: Texas immigration officers watch from afar as people-smuggling operations bring dozens of illegal immigrants into the southern state. What is not so familiar, though, is the actions that occur after the travelers are across the border. Instead of scattering, they surrender. This is a growing concern for immigration authorities, as more immigrants are seeking asylum through the courts under U.S. immigration law instead of simply sneaking into the country. Now, more legal resources are needed to manage the influx of new asylum-seekers.
Immigrants to the United States may seek and obtain asylum for political or religious persecution. Even though this is a basic tenet of the immigration system, detainees in El Paso, Texas, have reportedly been held in immigration detention centers for long periods of time, even though federal officials have discovered that those people have legitimate asylum claims. An immigration activist inside the detention facility says that dozens of people – perhaps as many as 60 – have been told that they likely have legitimate asylum claims. In most cases, those people are released pending the outcome of the asylum cases. However, these victims appear to be stuck in the detention centers even though their claims are being processed, which violates existing rules.
Immigration cases can be very difficult to go through, especially for individuals seeking asylum or facing deportation. Many immigration cases take a while to conclude, and the government shutdown will only increase the amount of time it takes for immigration cases to be heard.