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Recently, the governors of Texas and Florida have brought the topic of immigration to the forefront of the national conversation by implementing controversial policies to transport Venezuelan asylum seekers from Texas to Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York City. In the case of Florida governor Ron Desantis, the migrants were sent by plane to the small Massachusetts island community of Martha’s Vineyard.

Generally speaking, under U.S. law, a migrant who has a well-founded fear of returning to their home country on account of their race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, among other requirements, is eligible to apply for asylum in the United States. Migrants present in the United States are lawfully permitted to apply for asylum and may be eligible to apply for work authorization while their case is pending.

Importantly, migrants who are seeking asylum in Immigration Court have a host of responsibilities beyond fighting their actual case: they need to be present for all scheduled hearings or risk having their case denied, they need to update the Court every time they change addresses, and they may need to find legal representation. Transporting asylum seekers across the country, therefore, risks overwhelming an already overburdened Immigration Court system as these asylum seekers may need to file motions to change venue, notify the Court of address changes and find new legal representation, often on very short notice.

Asylum seekers in the United States are in a vulnerable position already, having fled their country out of fear. Fighting their asylum cases in Immigration Court is difficult enough by itself due to potential language barriers, potential difficulty finding legal representation and due to the complexity of the immigration laws in the United States. Asylum seekers should not be used as political props in order to prove a point – they deserve a chance to advocate for themselves, as is their right under both U.S. and international law. Those seeking asylum in the United States should speak with an experienced immigration attorney, such as the attorneys at The Modi Law Firm, PLLC.