In the first weeks after President Biden’s new border policies were put in place, his administration recorded a sharp drop in the number of people authorized to apply for asylum after crossing into the United States illegally.

But lawyers who advise migrants seeking asylum say the changes make it almost impossible for them to do their jobs and leave the people most in need of protection scrambling to find help.

Attorneys cannot meet with clients who are in Border Patrol custody. Or call them. Or leave messages for them. There is no system to find out where a customer is being held. And the government sets the schedules for key meetings when a lawyer should be present and changes dates and times often without notice.

These barriers are a byproduct of changes in how and where the government conducts what’s called a credible fear interview, a make-or-break step that determines whether someone who crossed the border illegally and fears persecution or torture at home should be allowed to apply for asylum in the United States.

Before the changes, the interviews were conducted in longstanding Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities. policies for detainees to access lawyers. Migrants were transferred there from border custody, and it took an average of 30 days from the time someone was picked up by Border Patrol to a final decision on whether the person would be allowed to apply for asylum.

Now, many people are interviewed in Customs and Border Protection facilities, reducing the time to an average of 13 days.

The government also raised the threshold for who is eligible to seek asylum, which reduced the number of people allowed to apply after crossing the border illegally. In June 2019, about 74 percent of the people interviewed were given the opportunity to apply for asylum. Last month, only 30 percent were, according to government data.

Biden officials say the new rules work by limiting the ability to apply for asylum to people with a good chance of winning their case down the road. The administration has added hundreds of phones and private booths to border facilities so people can consult with a lawyer.

“DHS has taken significant steps to ensure that noncitizens who allege a fear of return receive a safe and effective process that protects their confidentiality and privacy,” Luis Miranda, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Customs and Border Protection, said in a statement.

“We operate within a broken system that only Congress can fix,” he added.

The Trump administration has instituted policies to limit who can apply for asylum as well, but has faced court challenges. Mr. Biden chose not to continue the legal battle for those policies when he took office.

But as illegal crossings at the southern border have reached record levels, Mr. Biden has embraced increasingly restrictive measures and issued rules similar to those in the Trump era. Officials in his administration say their approach, which also faces a legal challenge, is different from that of former President Donald J. Trump because, they say, access to legal counsel is built into their plan.

But in interviews, reports and court filesasylum lawyers say that’s hardly the case.

“It’s just a fig tree of legal access,” said Greg Chen, who heads the government relations division for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Some lawyers have refused to take on clients because the quality of representation they can provide in these circumstances is so compromised, Mr. Chen said.

“Lawyers basically go into guerilla warfare just to enter a process with a bata-mole,” said Faisal Al-Juburi, spokesman and vice president of development for the nonprofit group RAICES. one in five organizations on a list that the government provides to help migrants held in Customs and Border Protection custody.

Advocates have long complained about the conditions and remote locations of ICE jails. But they say CBP is much worse.

Customs and Border Protection facilities were designed to book and charge migrants who cross the border illegally. They were never meant to hold people for more than a few days or provide access from the outside world.

But the Biden administration tasked Customs and Border Protection with making sure migrants could try to connect with a lawyer before interviews that could mean life or death.

A senior CBP official, who was authorized to speak on the condition of anonymity, said the agency was aware of the challenges facing asylum lawyers and that it was clear to the government that demand for legal representation was greater than ever. But, the official said, the fact that lawyers are raising these concerns based on their experiences shows that migrants in CBP custody have some level of access to legal counsel.

In addition to adding phone booths for migrants, the administration has created CBP contact email accounts that attorneys can contact for help sending detainees the forms they must sign to formalize representation.

But a migrant’s access to phones appears to be unpredictable, lawyers said. And often, the linked email accounts are black holes, said Lisa Koop, the national director of legal services for the National Immigrant Justice Center.

Ruth Pebror, a lawyer for the organization, said hours can go by without a single call to a legal aid hotline. Another lawyer said there were times when 150 calls came in at once.

During one of her shifts, Ms. Pebror answered a call from a 20-year-old Colombian who said he had fled his country because paramilitary groups were threatening him and his family.

After their call, Ms. Pebror emailed a CBP account, seeking to formalize her representation of the client. Days passed, and Ms. Pebror said she heard nothing as her client was interviewed without her and determined to be ineligible to apply for protection. She hoped she could help him during his appeal before an immigration judge. But the court changed the time of its hearing to earlier in the day without telling her. The judge denied her client’s appeal, and Mrs. Pebror never spoke to her client again.

“As far as I know, he was removed,” she said.

Cynthia Bautista, a California-based attorney, said an asylum officer told her he would conduct her client’s credible fear interview at 9 a.m. or 2 p.m. the next day. But he never called that day, Ms. Bautista said, and she had no way of finding out what happened to her client.

“I went ballistic,” she said, worried that the government had already deported her client.

The next day, Saturday, Mrs. Bautista received the call she had been waiting for 24 hours earlier. It was noon, and the asylum officer told her it was time for the interview. Mrs. Bautista said it was fortunate that she was at home and able to take the call, which lasted three hours. Ultimately, her client was released and allowed to apply for asylum.

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