Protesters take to the southern border, calling for immigration policy change

Nogales Asylum Demonstration

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Dozens of people gathered on both sides of the border in Nogales to stand against current immigration laws and tighter restrictions in the works for those seeking asylum in the U.S.

A handful of migrants read their stories along the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday, Aug. 6 recounting how they fled from Central America — many running for their lives, fleeing violence and persecution.

Under current immigration laws, refugees who seek to make claims for asylum and are given a court date to make their case.

Hundreds of people are currently waiting months, even years for a chance to be in the U.S. safely. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have had their court dates pushed back several months until the fall.

One woman who spoke said she’s been in Nogales, Sonora waiting for six months now. She said she crossed 12 counties to get here and said she was abused since she was a young girl.

Another woman who spoke at Thursday’s demonstration said she just wants a chance.

In Spanish telling the crowd: “Respeten nuestros derechos como seres humanos de buscar protección.”

“Respect our rights as human beings to seek protection.”

A new proposal by the Trump administration aims to make the asylum process even harder. The requirements would become stricter and migrants would not automatically be granted court dates to make their case.

Mali Lorenz, one of the organizers of Thursday’s Save Asylum demonstration, called the current system embarrassing.

“It’s depressing, certainly it’s easy to feel powerless when we hear these stories,” Lorenz said.

Many say those proposed changes could end asylum in this country forever, but many say they are hopeful.

“With the help of our community and all these diverse people coming together saying something needs to be done we see that we do create change,” Lorenz said.

If the Trump administration does move forward with the changes to asylum, immigrant advocacy groups around the country have said they’ll challenge them in court.

It’s a fight that will keep migrants waiting even longer.

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.