“With this policy, the Trump administration is purposefully keeping Central Americans in unsafe conditions without access to counsel and evidence in an effort to send them straight back to the hands of their persecutors.”
- Dree Collopy
“This bill will bring an end to asylum for all minors from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala arriving at the U.S. border,” said Dree Collopy, a partner at Benach Collopy LLP, in an interview. “This historic change in asylum law would categorically block tens of thousands of children from ever applying for asylum.”
"President Trump tried to claim Tuesday night that shutting down the federal government over his demand for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border is a compassionate action — that he is taking a stand on behalf of the American public and even immigrants in response to what he called a “humanitarian and security crisis.” Trump was right about one thing: What’s happening on the southern border is a crisis. But it is his choices that have created it, and his wall would not solve anything."
Although her focus is on helping clients prevent deportation altogether, Benach said she now spends time instructing families on how to fill out the standby guardianship forms. “It’s responsive to a great need in the immigrant community here,” Benach said. “It gives people a little peace of mind.”
“If I were to walk into court asking for a final decision before the the shutdown even happened, I would have to wait until 2021,” Ava Benach, an immigration attorney at Benach Collopy told ThinkProgress in an interview. “I have a client who was supposed to have a hearing on January 3 where we were going to resolve a number of issues and create a plan going forward, and now who knows when that will happen?”
Ava Benach, an immigration attorney from Washington, said those denial rates simply prove that asylum rules haven’t adjusted to modern realities. She said victims of domestic abuse and gang violence should absolutely qualify for asylum because Central American governments cannot help them, either because they are unable or unwilling to confront the husbands and gangs that carry out those crimes.
President Trump’s recent action to limit asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border is just his latest attempt to scare Americans about asylum seekers, undercutting long-standing principles of decency and humanity. And like most of what Trump says about immigrants, the rationale the administration is using to keep out asylum seekers is based on myths and deliberate obfuscations.
Sessions’ unilateral decision will undoubtedly result in significant numbers of bona fide refugees being returned to the hands of their persecutors. This is yet another barrier conjured by the Trump Administration to impede due process and access to our asylum system.
Dree Collopy, an attorney based in Northern Virginia, said one of her clients—an Ethiopian woman—recently got an expedited asylum interview because her family members back in Ethiopia were in danger. After the interview, though, nine months passed without them getting word on whether the woman would get asylum. “Instead of issuing a decision, they scheduled her for a second interview,” Collopy said. The woman recently went in for Interview Number Two. They still haven’t heard whether she’ll get asylum.
Today, the backlogged immigration system makes applying for political asylum or other forms of permanent legal status far more difficult. Obtaining citizenship can be impossible. "That process is over a decade long. It can cost thousands of dollars. It's not realistic," said Ava Benach, an immigration lawyer in the D.C. area.
Obama’s ICE often used immigration audits to disrupt and humiliate large restaurants and inspire compliance, Ava Benach said — such as an audit of Clyde’s of Gallery Place in 2013, in which more than 100 employees were deemed unauthorized to work in the United States. But she, too, suspected the audits had taken on another purpose under Trump. “I think it’s part of the effort to make immigrants feel insecure in places where, through inertia, they felt secure,” Benach said.