The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) assists families crossing the border to seek safety in the United States. These families are commonly known as refugees, and legally known as asylum seekers. They are fleeing life-threatening violence, including attempted murder, torture, and rape. Many are suffering from extreme trauma, and most are from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Upon arrival at the Mexico-U.S. border, asylum-seeking families suffer gross mistreatment by U.S. immigration officials. The U.S. government separates children from their parents and prosecutes parents for having the courage to bring their children to safety. Officials detain families in inhumane conditions and deny them proper medical treatment—a practice that has resulted in the deaths of at least two children in recent months.
Families who secure release from detention must navigate complex legal systems in hostile environments, all without guaranteed access to legal counsel. Asylum seekers who live in isolated and under-resourced communities are especially unlikely to find lawyers. Meanwhile, the current administration continues to weaken asylum laws, making it difficult for asylum seekers to win cases based on domestic violence and other severe harms. Nationwide, fewer than 3% of families without lawyers are successful in securing asylum, with thousands receiving deportation orders despite having strong claims and a genuine fear of persecution. Meanwhile, the press has reported the murder of asylum seekers after their wrongful deportation from the United States.