Over the past year, the Trump administration has put forth an array of measures to deter immigration to the United States, including separating families, enacting a zero-tolerance stance toward irregular crossings, and—most recently—requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while awaiting their asylum claim decisions. Despite these efforts, in February 2019, apprehension numbers from the United States’s southern border hit their highest levels in 10 years.
For the past two years, the Trump administration has focused on slashing the number of refugees entering the United States, dropping the cap from 85,000 in 2016 to just 30,000 for 2019. These efforts have singled out top-sending—and predominantly Muslim—countries including Syria and Iraq. Yet, in the past two years, new refugee crises have popped up throughout the world; one of the most quickly unraveling of which is just across the Caribbean Sea in Venezuela.
The Trump administration’s efforts to establish a “zero tolerance policy” prosecuting all irregular border-crossers ended in high-profile disarray but the fallout continues. Months after the president signed an executive order halting the family separations that his administration had implemented, more than 500 children still wait to be reunited with their parents.
The conventional wisdom about immigration suggests that the migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border are cheating the system, “skipping the line” or otherwise blatantly breaking the rules. The United States is a country of laws, the thinking goes, and hopeful migrants should not be allowed to enter unless they do so legally. But what are these legal options?