DePaul University professor debunks migrant myths, urges feds to streamline court process – NBC Chicago
As concerns persist over how to adequately support the thousands of migrants recently sent to Chicago, a DePaul University professor clarifies the process ahead for them and dispels myths surrounding their legal status in the United States. United.
“We have a very complicated system,” said Dr. Shailja Sharma, who holds the chair of international studies and professor of refugee and forced migration studies at DePaul University.
According to the City of Chicago, 10,019 migrants have arrived since August 2022. Sharma said many of them are seeking asylum in the United States.
“Usually at the border they’ll need an asylum officer who will see if they have…surface level…enough reason to fear for their lives,” the professor said. “It’s called a believable scare interview.”
Some migrants may be able to apply for asylum in their home country, but many start the process at the border, Sharma said. She said the process is then in the hands of the immigration court system.
“It depends on the availability of nominations and the availability of judges,” Sharma said. “Until they actually have the interview with the judge, (the migrants) are legally allowed to stay in the United States.”
Sharma described the asylum approval standard as “pretty high”.
“You have to prove that you are persecuted on five grounds, including religion, race, political beliefs, etc., nationality, etc.,” she said.
There are currently many more cases than the immigration system can process. January data from Syracuse University’s Immigration Court Backlog Tool shows that it takes an average of 801 days for a migrant to have a hearing in Chicago.
The US Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review has not confirmed Syracuse’s number.
“When an immigration court receives a charging document – called a notice to appear (NTA) – from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the court schedules a first hearing before an immigration judge at the first date available on the calendar,” a ministry spokesperson said.
Sharma also warned against the rhetoric surrounding migrants. She said the federal government, through FEMA, is better prepared than state and local governments to meet the needs of migrants once they arrive in the United States.
“Let’s not look at (migrants) as just a drain on an economy,” Sharma said. “Yes, they need resources, but you know, the city needs to be prepared and ask for those resources from the federal government and also find a more streamlined way to deliver those services.”