Immigration attorney discusses asylum seekers

Austin Lee

Immigration attorney Lori Schoenberg spoke to students about immigration at the United States-Mexico border and the current administration’s policies regarding asylum seekers in Ahmanson Lecture Hall on May 20.

Schoenberg, who volunteers with the Harvard-Westlake Immigration Assistance Club, addressed the immigration process and challenges that the system is facing.

Schoenberg discussed asylum seekers’ motivations for entering the U.S. and noted that many immigrants cross as unaccompanied minors, under the age of 18. In addition, these children face difficult, unsafe conditions at the border.

“In many cases, children are traveling alone,” Schoenberg said. “The reason children travel alone is basically desperation.”

Schoenberg commented on the so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy, in which asylum seekers are sent back to wait in Mexico for their immigration hearings. The process can take two or three years to be completed, and immigrants must apply to enter the U.S. for every hearing.

“People really don’t have anywhere to go or live, and there have been many circumstances in which primarily women or children have been the victims of extortion or other violence when they even try just to go to the border to go to the hearings,” Schoenberg said.

Valentina Gaxiola ’21 said that she felt inspired to learn more about the different facets of immigration.

“I think the speaker offered clarity on the rules and specifics regarding the separation of children,” Gaxiola said. “[The speaker] made me want to learn more about the laws and practices of the government in different circumstances regarding immigration. I also learned about the hardships that young children and teenagers seeking asylum face.”