Thousands of people seeking protection in the United States end up in immigration detention after crossing into Mexico and are typically subject to immediate deportation. However, those who address threats of abuse or torture in their home countries have the right to be interviewed by a security official in what is known as a “creadible fear interview”.
If the officer determines that they have a valid fear, then they are entitled to a full hearing before an immigration court, where they can formally apply for asylum. The lawsuit challenged the government’s delays in conducting such interviews, which left asylum seekers in jail for months.
The new precedent was formalized by international agreement, and immigration officials are now required to conduct interviews within 60 days (with some exceptions, such as when the person requests more time to find a lawyer). If an interview is not scheduled within 60 days, the person has the right to have his case immediately referred to an immigration judge for a full asylum hearing.