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Complex legal steps ahead for migrants in Denver seeking asylum

Migrants in Denver: The long road to asylum
Migrants in Denver: The long road to asylum 02:21

As thousands of migrants continue to arrive in Denver, many wonder what the next legal steps for them are.

The Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network is one of several groups collaborating with the city of Denver to help give legal guidance to the mostly Venezuelan migrants arriving here. On Tuesday, 167 more migrants arrived, bringing the total to nearly 3,700 since Dec. 9.

For many of these migrants seeking asylum, it's a long process, but it's a process that's legal and a right for those coming to the United States. But the U.S. immigration system is complex.

"There's no one-size-fits-all for anybody coming to the United States," said Laura Lunn, the director of RMIAN.

Laura Lunn   CBS

"A lot of people compare it to the tax code, and actually say it's more complicated than the tax code," Lunn continued. "It is impossible for us to figure out what the timeline looks like, for anyone who's recently arriving in the United States because there are just so many different ways that the department of homeland security processes these cases."

While some of these migrants are having interactions with federal agencies like Customs and Border Protection, a large amount of them are not.

But there are various ways one can be eligible to get lawful immigration status, which could be through family connections or by seeking asylum, which is what many of these migrants who are arriving now are trying to do but to seek asylum, one must prove they are fleeing violence in their home country, and it's an arduous process. 

"It's so difficult for people to navigate the system without an attorney, and it's so difficult to have an attorney for a case that going to pend for 10 years or 6 years," said Christina Brown, an immigration attorney.

Christina Brown CBS

Brown added that all those seeking asylum would have to apply within a year of setting foot in the country, but said the ability to navigate that system, depends on the government. 

"If the United States government is going to litigate to the fullest extent every asylum case, because they don't want to grant asylum to people, this system is just going to get harder, and harder, and harder for people to actually get through," Brown said. "They should have access to a fair system because I think a lot of these people would win asylum." 

Brown said a lot of these laws and processes can change depending on who's president. It's also important to not, that some of these migrants may choose to never apply for asylum, which means they would be in the country without permission, which later could result in deportation. 

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