Trump Finds New Way to Discourage Migrants

But swamped immigration courts manage to fast-track family cases
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 3, 2019 1:00 PM CDT
Trump Finds New Way to Discourage Migrants
In this May 30, 2019 photo immigrant families show paperwork to enter an immigration court in an office building in downtown Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Rosita Lopez said armed gang members demanded money from her and her partner at their small grocery store on the Guatemalan coast and threatened to kill them when they couldn't pay. When her partner was shot soon afterward, they sold everything and fled north, the AP reports. Just over a year later, an immigration judge in Los Angeles heard her case, denied her asylum and ordered her deported. "I'm afraid of going back there," she told the judge. The decision for 20-year-old Lopez—who now has an American-born baby—was swift in an immigration court system so backlogged with cases that asylum seekers often wait years for a hearing, let alone a ruling on whether they can stay in the country.

But her case is one of 56,000 in a Trump administration pilot program in 10 cities from Baltimore to Los Angeles aimed at fast-tracking court hearings to discourage migrants from making the journey to seek refuge in the US. The administration selected family cases in those cities from the past 10 months. Immigration lawyers who often complain it takes too long to get a court date said the new timetable is too fast to prepare their clients to testify and get documents from foreign countries to bolster their claims. The program is one way the Trump administration is seeking to curtail the arrival of tens of thousands of Central American families each month on the US-Mexico border, many seeking asylum.

(Read more asylum stories.)

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