Immigration lawyers explain the asylum process as migrants depart from Martha’s Vineyard

Inmigrantes se congregan frente a la iglesia episcopal de San Andrés el 14 de septiembre del...
Inmigrantes se congregan frente a la iglesia episcopal de San Andrés el 14 de septiembre del 2022, en Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.(Ray Ewing/Vineyard Gazette | AP)
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 10:45 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is making national headlines for flying 50 Venezuelans seeking asylum to Martha’s Vineyard. Some are praising the move, while others are calling it a political stunt.

Immigration Attorney, Zaira Solano says seeking asylum in the U-S is a legal, human right allowed by the Department of Homeland Security. It allows people to leave their country under the fear that they, or their family, could be in harm’s way.

The application process, however, is long and arduous.

“Right now, it’s taking five-plus years to actually get an interview and decision,” she says. “People who are already in the United States that are applying for asylum and have nothing to do with being detained, there are many cases that are denied.”

Solano also says in many cases, migrants are trying to establish a connection to family already in the United States. If their cases aren’t granted by a judge, they are served a deportation notice. Alabama has no immigration court to hear asylum cases, instead they’re sent to the closest courts in either Memphis, New Orleans, or Atlanta.

“In Atlanta, the Atlanta Immigration Court, for someone that has an active deportation case against them,” she continued. “They are claiming asylum as their form of relief, Atlanta’s one of the lowest approval ratings in the whole country and it’s right at about 2 percent of all applications.”

That is the case for one of Keith Cornett, an immigration lawyer in Huntsville who says one of his clients is facing deportation.

“An individual came in and she fled because her father had been abusive. Well, that in and of itself is not a grounds for asylum. Asylum is, you know, you want to be persecuted because of your politics, religion, and so forth. And she was just have a situation with her parent.”