A new pilot program aimed at processing asylum seekers more quickly is being tested at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
Migrants afraid of going back to their home country will be allowed to stay in temporary holding cells at the border while officials decide whether their cases have a chance of winning in court.
Waiting asylum seekers are normally transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is responsible for long-term detention.
Those seeking asylum are often left in limbo because they aren’t legally allowed to enter the United States until their case is processed.
Local immigration attorney Esther Valdes says the pilot program will shorten wait times but is concerned about due process issues relating to an asylum seekers credible fear interview. “Once they’re sitting ... how will they access their legal rights, their lawful right? And how will they be able to present documentary evidence with assistance of counsel?” she told NBC 7. “That’s what worries me as an attorney.”
Valdez said that will be a challenge, considering Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to not allow asylum for people fleeing domestic or gang violence.