Asylum seekers in the Boston area can expect longer wait times, as local resources are being shifted to the southern border.

U.S. Customs and Immigration Services notified local immigration attorneys that asylum officers from Boston will be sent to the southwest border with Mexico to address the influx of asylum seekers there.An email to members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association said a majority of the asylum officers in Boston, along with Newark and New Jersey, are being deployed to the border.

Cambridge-based immigration attorney Susan Church, who received the email, called this another attack on the legal immigration system by the Trump administration.

"All the time that these asylum officers are away at the border, interviews are not being conducted and that backlog is growing larger and larger and larger," she said.

Church estimates the wait time for asylum cases in Boston is between three and six years.

The correspondence, signed by Susan Raufer, director of the Newark Asylum Office and Meghann Boyle, sub-office director of the Boston Asylum Sub-Office, says no new asylum interviews will be scheduled for the time being in the Boston office.

"We are disappointed not to be able to continue to cut into our backlog or to adjudicate affirmative cases. We appreciate your understanding," the email concludes.

Church says this will impact asylum seekers who are living in the community and who generally have very strong cases.

"They are asking the government for asylum in the U.S. before they're caught by ICE, before they're caught by Customs and Border Patrol, they're bringing themselves to the attention of immigration and asking for asylum."

This story comes from the New England News Collaborative, eight public media companies, including The Public's Radio, coming together to tell the story of a changing region, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.