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Legal process for migrants seeking asylum

EL PASO, Texas -- Migrants have been seen camped out in parts of El Paso after hundreds have been crossing everyday in the El Paso area.

In July, there were 24,916 migrant encounters, according to data from Customs and Border Protection. CBP is reporting that this is a 21.2 percent compared to July of 2021.

Border Patrol Chief of the El Paso Sector Gloria Chavez sent out a post on her Instagram page saying the El Paso sector is seeing around 1,300 migrant encounters per day in the month of September.

Melissa Lopez, executive director and attorney at the Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services here in El Paso works inside the El Paso's Catholic Diocese to provide legal representation and advocacy to migrants.

Their work is to help migrants through the immigration process and if they are allowed to stay on this side of the border. 

"If the decision is allowing them to stay in the U.S., then obviously they get to stay, but unfortunately not everybody qualifies for a benefit, and so those that don't qualify do have to leave the United States," she said.

A large number of current migrants El Paso is seeing are coming from Venezuela and Melissa Lopez said these are asylum seekers not refugees so they are not entitled to money from the U.S. government as a part of a refugee program.

"An asylum seeker is somebody who comes to the United States and seeks refuge once they're here, so they seek that benefit inside the United States. A refugee is somebody who seeks essentially asylum status while they're still outside of the United States," said Lopez.

Title 42, the CDC health regulation that allowed for Border Patrol agents the power to expel migrants immediately without the migrant being processed out of fear the migrant could spread Covid-19, was set to end in May. However, a federal judge in Louisiana blocked the Biden administration from ending the health order, and it remains in effect.

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Sam Harasimowicz

Sam Harasimowicz is a reporter, producer and one of the anchors of ABC-7’s weekend evening news programs


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