Immigrants can seek asylum in the U.S. if they have experienced, or if they have a reasonable fear of, persecution based on race, nationality, religion, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. It is entirely legal for people to seek asylum at any U.S. border crossing.
"The system is being gamed, there's no doubt about it," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a speech last October. He was trying to get Congress to tighten the rules for asylum.
Five Central Americans recently came to the U.S. seeking asylum or refugee status, bringing several children and grandchildren with them. They were arrested near ports of entry in El Paso, according to federal court records.
The decision to leave one's home country and relocate to the United States is not an easy one to make. Furthermore, depending on their resources and opportunities waiting for them in states like Louisiana, some immigrants must go through rough and lengthy battles to enter the country. This could lead to immigrants illegally entering the nation because the legal channels are not readily available to them. Although the immigrant could face deportation due to their lack of status, a refugee might have an opportunity to prevent or defer deportation based on the details of their situation.
Last year's government shutdown has affected many different areas, including the field of immigration. Over 37,000 immigration hearings have been delayed by months or even years leaving many immigrants feeling anxious. About 70% of immigration hearings were put on hold. Unfortunately, many of these hearings have been delayed to later this year and some will be pushed well in to 2015.