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Why the uptick in asylum applications is creating so much controversy -- II

In our previous post, we spent some time briefly discussing how the process of applying for asylum here in the U.S. works and, more significantly, how it can prove to be exceptionally lengthy regardless of the outcome.

Interestingly, a growing number of news outlets are now reporting on a controversial and growing practice in which immigrants and their legal counsel are using the asylum application process -- and its long wait times -- as a mechanism through which to delay their potential deportation.

Specifically, many of these immigrants, fearful of swift deportations being undertaken by the incoming Trump administration, are now rushing to file applications for asylum despite the fact that there is little chance of them prevailing.

The reason?

It will likely allow them to remain legally in the U.S. for quite some time, perhaps even through to the next election, as the wait times for first asylum interviews and everything thereafter, including deportation hearings, are currently many years long.

Indeed, some legal professionals are actively planning for their clients to file for asylum and be placed in deportation hearings, as it will enable them to request what is known as a "cancellation of removal" in immigration court that, if granted, would pave the way for them to secure legal permanent residency.

Perhaps not surprisingly, a large number of attorneys have argued that this practice is unethical, serving to artificially inflate the already huge backlog of asylum cases with those lacking merit and, by extension, prolong the denial of relief to deserving parties. Furthermore, they argue that it is fraught with peril for clients, who may not truly appreciate the very real risk that they could end up being deported.

Supporters, however, view it as necessary to protect clients during otherwise uncertain times, merited by the lack of congressional action and otherwise entirely legal.    

"I have clients who have been here forever, have U.S. citizen children, and are desperate for documents because they are very afraid," said one attorney. "Some people think this is scandalous and unethical. I think it's unethical not to give my clients protection."

It will, of course, be fascinating to see how this all unfolds in the coming years and even months. Stay tuned for updates …

Please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have questions or concerns relating to the asylum process or another pressing immigration law issue.

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