Valley immigration attorney explains legal process for asylum seekers

Apr 12, 2021, 4:45 AM | Updated: 7:31 am
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Some of the newly arrived migrants could be waiting years to have their asylum cases resolved.

“There’s really no pattern,” Linda Frayre, an immigration attorney in El Mirage, told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “I have asylum cases that after a year and a half, they’re having their final court hearing. And there are others that it’s going to be four years exactly from when we filed the application.”

She said it often has to do with the backlog in cases and how packed the schedule is for the immigration judge assigned to the case.

Frayre has been helping asylum seekers with their cases since 2018 when immigration officials began dropping off migrants, many of them from Central America, at churches in the Phoenix metro area.

“A lot of these asylum seekers are coming in because they’re afraid, and they have a very legitimate fear of losing their lives,” Frayre said.

“They were going through very difficult situations back in their home countries and they didn’t feel they had the protection from local authorities or anyone they could reach out for help.”

One of her clients worked as a driver for a bus company that made a deal with a gang in El Salvador. He refused to get involved and was threatened.

“He came here seeking help,” Frayre said. “While he was here, they burned down his home where his children resided. Thankfully they were not home that day.”

He began the asylum process in 2018. Since then his court hearings have been rescheduled multiple times, delaying his proceedings.

Frayre said that has happened with a few of her clients.

A few of her clients have also been unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the United States.

“I have other cases where children run away because they’re being abused by their parents,” she said. “They’re being punished by the local gangs because they don’t want to be part of their gang. They’re being harassed because of their indigenous status, and that is causing them to fear for their lives.”

She explained once the children get to the border, they are first placed in strained border holding facilities. Then they’re transferred to facilities more suited for children until they can be placed with sponsors, who are usually parents or close relatives in the U.S.

“Unfortunately, many of those children don’t have family members here that have legal status,” Frayre said. “Therefore, the family is afraid to go forward and say, ‘Hey, I’ll sponsor my nephew or my cousin.’”

Children released to sponsors are given notices to appear in court, so they can pursue their asylum cases. Their sponsors are required to go with them as well, which makes those who are undocumented feel scared about getting detained.

Frayre said she has had about 10 clients who were unaccompanied minors. All have been released to sponsors and some still have pending asylum cases.

“It’s very rewarding when I’m able to help those children,” she said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Follow @KTAR923...

Free concert series in Glendale set to begin on Friday

Fourteen free concerts by local acts will be played at Murphy Park in downtown Glendale starting on Friday, Oct. 1.
4 hours ago
Lake Powell at the Glen Canyon Dam wall on Aug. 18, 2021, as the lake was at historic lows. (Photo ...
Ulysse Bex and Emma VandenEinde I Cronkite News

New estimates show Colorado River levels falling faster than expected

New projections show that Lake Mead and Lake Powell could reach “critically low reservoir elevations” sooner than expected, spurring experts to say that “bold actions” will be needed to change course.
4 hours ago
(Pexels photo)...
Associated Press

Teen boy found shot to death in San Tan Valley home

Authorities in Pinal County are investigating the shooting death of a 15-year-old boy.
1 day ago
(AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)...
Danny Shapiro

Hoffman says ruling against mask mandate bans in Arizona schools ‘right decision’

Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said a Monday ruling that a law banning face mask mandates in Arizona schools violates the state constitution and can’t go into effect this week as scheduled was the right move for students, parents and administrators.
1 day ago
(ADOT photo)...

I-17 south of downtown Phoenix back to 3 lanes as bridge project nears completion

The third lane in each direction of Interstate 17 south of downtown Phoenix has reopened after more than a year as a bridge project nears completion.
1 day ago
(Pexels Photo)...

Valley nonprofit to build affordable housing for seniors with $9.1M federal grant

An Arizona nonprofit will receive $9.1 million in federal funding to develop affordable housing in the West Valley city of Surprise for low-income seniors.
1 day ago
Valley immigration attorney explains legal process for asylum seekers