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International treaties complicate handling of asylum seekers

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U.S. policies on immigration become more confusing for Nebraskans every day, particularly for those seeking asylum or who know someone who is. While the current president of the United States reportedly wants to require Central American asylum seekers at the southern border to wait in Mexico while U.S. courts deliberate their status, the established laws would make that extremely difficult, if not impossible. 

Typically, those applying affirmatively for asylum in the United States do not even submit a form to that effect until after they arrive in the country; the law allows them up to one year following arrival in the U.S. to apply to Citizenship and Immigration Services. According to reports, the current president wishes to change this process and prevent asylum seekers from entering the United States at all until after approval of their applications. 

Unfortunately, the current president's alleged wishes undermine U.S. law and international treaties that prevent the United States from sending migrants back to a country where they would be in danger. There is no guarantee that Central American asylum seekers will be safe in Mexico, nor is it clear whether or not Mexico will deport them back to the countries of origin from which they initially fled. In either case, by not allowing asylum seekers entrance into the country, the United States government would be indirectly responsible for allowing them to potentially come to harm. 

If the United States had a safe third country agreement with Mexico, as it does with Canada, it would require asylum seekers to make their claims in Mexico, being the first safe country where the migrants arrived. However, as of now, there is no such agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, and as Mexico recently elected a new president, even if the United States took steps to forge such an agreement, its finalization would likely take some time. 

As immigration matters continue to become more complicated, those with questions about their status in the United States may wish to consult an attorney. 

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