By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It has been a week of confusion for many along the border — and for many Minnesota families.

A small office space in downtown Minneapolis has for decades worked to balance human rights with the rule of law. Sarah Brenes is director of the Refugee and Immigrant Program at The Advocates for Human Rights.

“This is something that’s not new for us,” Brenes said. “We are fighting as hard as we can at every turn to protect them and their families.”

Right now, volunteer attorneys represent some 500 asylum seekers in Minnesota, North and South Dakotas. From DACA dreamers to refugees, Brenes says President Trump’s policies have instilled fresh fears in their clients.

(credit: CBS)

“Many of them are afraid to be out in public, leave their homes because of this constant targeting of different groups of individuals,” she said.

While family separation may be making headlines now, Minnesota families have seen it before. This year alone, 164 of what are called “unaccompanied alien children” have been released to sponsors in this state — on par with years’ past. Kids crossing the border alone.

Bottom line, Brenes does not believe detention with or without children is not the answer. Instead, going back to 2014, where asylum seekers who proved credible fear were released on parole, until an immigration judge ruled on their case.

“They’re continuing to come because they have nowhere else to go,” Brenes said. “It’s their flight to the United States or death.”

Advocates tell WCCO that most asylum cases will take an average of two years to sort out.

Liz Collin