To seek asylum in the U.S., applicants had to go through the CBP One app. Launched by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency in 2020, the app was meant to serve as a one-stop portal for asylum seekers looking to enter America from Mexico. However, the app’s limited application slots have always held it back.
But last week, border immigration officials announced that CBP One expanded its asylum application slots from 1,000 to 1,250. The federal government hopes that the app and other legal pathways, such as parole, will help more asylum seekers. Nevertheless, many asylum seekers from countries like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador continue to wait at border camps hoping that U.S. officials would let them cross the border without booking an appointment.
With the CBP One app increasing its slots, why aren’t more people using it to apply for asylum?
Reasons for asylum application issues
There are several reasons why many people continue to wait at border camps despite the U.S. government’s insistence on using the CBP One app. They include:
- App booking takes too long: Many would-be asylum seekers have complained that CBP One is unintuitive and takes multiple attempts before a user can book an appointment.
- Lack of mobile devices: Human rights groups stated that some asylum seekers may not have access to mobile devices or an internet connection. Amnesty International added that forcing asylum seekers to install an app that can track them violates their privacy rights.
- Misinformation: Rumors and disinformation have led some asylum seekers to try their luck at crossing the border without registering through CBP One.
- Slots are still not enough to meet significant demand: Even with the number of application slots increasing, too many applicants are trying to access the app simultaneously, so applicants can end up waiting for months until they can book an appointment.
Even if an asylum seeker manages to book an appointment through CBP One, they must go through the entire application process. The app isn’t a shortcut nor a guarantee that border authorities will grant asylum to an individual.
Asylum seekers might want to hire an attorney to help them, especially because those applying at the border must undergo the defensive asylum process. In the defensive asylum process, applicants must attend a hearing before a judge. An attorney can provide legal counsel and ensure the applicants’ rights are adequately represented during the hearing.