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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

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  1. Debating the Immigration Debate

    My law partner and I are adjunct professors at GW Law School, where we teach Asylum and Refugee Law (yes, we are basically one-trick ponies). This week, we learned that a scheduled debate called "Immigration 2018: Words Matter" was effectively canceled after one of the panelists was dis-invited due to his affiliation with the Center for Immigration Studies ("CIS"), an organization that some consider a hate group.



    Andrew Arthur: Master debater

    The event was billed as a "debate on the words used in the immigration debate." Panelists were to discuss "words and phrases like maras, chain migration, criminal alien, and others." The controversial panelist was Andrew Arthur, a Resident Fellow at CIS, and a former Immigration Judge (and a GW alum). However, Judge Arthur's association with CIS proved controversial and ultimately led to the dis-invitation.

    I can't really discuss the situation at GW, as I don't know all the details. Instead, I want to talk more generally about why it is so important for immigrant advocates to engage with groups like CIS.

    Let's start with the organization itself. CIS bills itself as "low-immigration, pro-immigrant." It wants to restrict the number of foreigners we allow into the United States. In contrast, the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled CIS an anti-immigrant hate group due to its founder's alleged ties to white supremacists and because it circulates writings by supposed white nationalists and anti-Semites.

    As you might guess, I'm not a huge fan of CIS either, and I have found some of their writers to be intellectually dishonest and needlessly divisive (though at least one of their writers thinks I'm a babe, which is quite flattering). However, my overall observation of the organization is that it is making important contributions to the immigration debate, and that its policy positions are generally within the mainstream of our society (unfortunately). For these reasons, I believe CIS's viewpoints deserve serious attention from those of us who care about immigration policy. Also, I'm skeptical of the SPLC's designation of CIS as a hate group. While I support the SPLC and believe it does vital work, I think designating CIS as a hate group is a stretch.

    Further, even if you have a lower tolerance for hate than me, and you believe CIS is a hate group, that does not seem a good enough reason to exclude its writers from the immigration debate. CIS is in-like-Flynn with the current Administration, and so its views really can't be ignored. Also, there are many Americans---including many in the main stream media--who do not view CIS as a hate group, and who pay attention to its opinions. Thus, we need to listen to the organization's views in order to better understand people who seek to restrict immigration.

    I'm not arguing that we need to engage with all individuals or groups that seem hateful. Some people are simply beyond the pale (David Duke, Richard Spencer) or exist merely to provoke reactions rather than advance any real policy agenda (Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos). Such people have little to contribute to any real discussion on immigration (or anything else), and exist mostly just to promote themselves. Giving them a platform is not productive. But that's not CIS, and when we fail to engage with legitimate and/or influential organizations, the quality of our national debate is diminished.

    There are other reasons to engage with CIS as well. For one, when we fail to engage, we effectively abandon the field to the opposition. While it may seem a principled stand to refuse to debate with a "hate group," that's not how the majority of Americans--who only pay periodic attention to immigration issues--will interpret the situation.

    Indeed, we need to be present when groups like CIS distort the facts, which they sometimes do, and we also need to articulate alternatives to their restrictionist policy proposals. We cannot correct the record or advocate for our own vision unless we are part of the conversation.

    There's also the matter of scoring political points. While I dislike the sophistry of cheap "point scoring" in our political debates, this is still part of the equation. Dis-inviting a group like CIS only plays into the organization's hands. What will they and their allies say about a dis-invitation? Frankly, it doesn't look good, and it tends to bolster right-wing tropes about "snowflakes" and "PC campus culture."

    Finally, there's the issue of safety. Some people (immigrants, for example) might feel targeted by CIS, and perhaps this is a reason to avoid engagement with the organization. In fact, CIS does target immigrants in its policy proposals (the "pro-immigrant" part of its mission statement notwithstanding), and so there is some justification for this concern. But in my opinion, individuals who feel targeted by CIS need to understand the organization's policy positions so that they can help refute those positions. Such individuals also need to explain to CIS how its work hurts real life people. Another aspect of this is that many of CIS's proposals would harm the weakest members of our society, and so we need to engage with the organization in order to stand up when defenseless people are bullied.

    In the end, I don't think we have anything to fear from engaging with CIS. We "pro-immigrant" advocates largely have logic, humanity, and American values on our side. The hard work lies in engaging with those who disagree with us, and hopefully moving our nation in a better direction.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
    Tags: cis, immigration Add / Edit Tags
  2. The Chimera of Immigration Court Quotas

    Let’s say it’s your goal to deport as many people as you can get your hands on. You believe that most asylum seekers are fraudsters and you hope to make America great again by cutting programs like TPS and DACA in order to remove as many foreigners as possible. In other words, let’s say you are a member of the Trump Administration. In that case, will case completion quotas in Immigration Court help you achieve your goal?


    Maybe if IJs were less lazy, they would complete more cases.

    Superficially, it seems that they might. If Immigration Judges (“IJs”) are required to complete more cases, it makes sense that more people will be deported. Presumably with that goal in mind, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”)--the office that oversees the nation’s Immigration Courts--has recently created performance metrics to evaluate IJs based, in part, on the number of cases completed.

    In order to achieve a “satisfactory” level of performance, IJs must now complete at least 700 cases per year, with less than a 15% remand rate (the “remand rate” is the percentage of decisions overturned by a higher court). IJs who complete between 560 and 700 cases “need improvement,” and IJs who complete less than 560 cases per year are deemed “unsatisfactory.”

    For what it’s worth (a lot, in my opinion), the National Association of Immigration Judges (the IJs’ union) opposes the new plan because they fear quotas will infringe on the IJs’ independence. For its part, EOIR contends that using metrics to evaluate performance is “neither novel nor unique” and that it will “encourage efficient and effective case management while preserving immigration judge discretion and due process.”

    I recently had the opportunity to speak to an IJ and a few court personnel about the new quotas, and they seemed nonplussed. In Baltimore, for example, I'm told that IJs with “regular” (as opposed to juvenile) dockets already complete well over 700 cases per year. The one IJ I spoke to said he completed 1,100 cases last year. Those number are well above average, according to the statistics I could find.

    Five months into FY 2018, the nation's IJs completed a total of 83,643 cases. Divide that by 330 judges, and you get an average completion rate for the U.S. of about 51 cases per month, or about 608 cases per year. Based on the statistics for Baltimore and my calculations (which are always suspect), the average IJ in that court will complete 855 cases this year. So why are Baltimore IJs so much more efficient than the national average?

    As usual, I do not know. But looking at the case completion rates for other courts perhaps gives us a clue. In Miami-Krome, a detention center, the completion rate is about 739 cases per year per IJ. I would have expected a higher completion rate in a detention facility, as detained cases tend to move faster than non-detained (indeed, if you see a detained case file at EOIR, it will be labeled with a bold sign indicating "Rush--Detained at Government Expense"). Other detention facilities have even lower case completion rates: Eloy, AZ completes 658 cases per IJ per year, Harlingen, TX completes 516, and Elizabeth, NJ completes 457.

    I suspect what's going on with these variable rates has more to do with cases being venued to other courts than with IJ efficiency. In other words, many aliens in detention facilities are there because they were detained while trying to enter the U.S. Some percentage of these people are released, and then move to another part of the United States, where they pursue their cases. Thus, IJs near the border and at certain detention facilities (near airports or the border) tend to complete fewer cases because their cases are transferred to other courts. In my Baltimore example, there is no major detention facility nearby, and most people do not transfer their cases elsewhere. Hence, IJs in Baltimore tend to complete the cases that come before them.

    The completion rate at other courts is more of a mystery. New York completes 540 cases per IJ per year, for example. LA completes only 477 cases per year (LA is near the border, so maybe some aliens are moving their cases to other jurisdictions).

    In short, without better data, it is difficult to know what is going on. One thing does seem clear though: Grant rates vary significantly by court. Thus, for some IJs, the new quotas will be a non-issue. They already complete more than enough cases to earn the distinguished title of "satisfactory." For other IJs, completing 700 cases, or even 560 cases, might be impossible. If so, the new quotas may force those judges to circumvent due process in order to fulfill EOIR's mandate.

    The new quotas raises other questions as well. The biggest one for me involves the anticipated influx of TPS and DACA recipients whose status has been terminated. It’s widely believed (including by yours truly) that many of these people will file for asylum rather than depart the United States. In an effort (probably futile) to dissuade such people from seeking asylum, USCIS has already re-ordered how cases will be processed, so that newly-filed cases will be interviewed first. If those cases are denied, they will be sent to court, where--according to one official I spoke to--they are supposed to be heard on an expedited basis. But how can that happen unless the court dockets are re-ordered? This "aimless docket reshuffling" (a termed coined by the inimitable Judge Schmidt) will pretty clearly interfere with the IJs' ability to meet EOIR's quotas.

    So in the end, it seems that the new quotas will have no affect on some IJs, and dramatic affects on others. Whether overall completion rates will be improved, I have my doubts, especially if dockets are reshuffled to accommodate an influx of TPS and DACA recipients. I also have doubts about whether IJs who are forced to drastically increase their completion rates will be able to continue making decisions in accordance with due process of law. Sadly, the Trump Administration seems far more concerned about quantity than quality, and I fear that asylum applicants, immigrants, and our nation's IJs will all suffer because of it.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
  3. Refugees and the Power of Stories

    I've written here many times about the difficulties faced by asylum seekers in the United States. But the fact is, asylum seekers and refugees are not powerless. They need not sit passively while politicians and pundits impugn them as "rapists" and "terrorists," and pretend that America's problems are caused by "the other." In fact, asylum seekers have a powerful tool at their disposal to fight back against such accusations: They have their stories.

    Talk to any asylum seeker or refugee, and you will hear a great story. It is often a tragic and depressing story, to be sure, but it is always a story about overcoming adversity, about survival, about perseverance. It is, more than anything, an American story. My ancestors fled pogroms in Russia or conscription in the Czar's army. My wife's grandfather escaped from a Nazi concentration camp in Austria. Many American families have stories like these.

    The clients I talk to every day also have amazing stories: Eritreans who escaped national service (i.e., slavery) by outrunning military guards and then traveling through dozens of countries to reach the United States; Afghans who served shoulder to shoulder with American soldiers and who were then threatened by the Taliban; transgender women from El Salvador who face persecution from their families; journalists from Pakistan who were threatened by the ISI; a gay man from Rwanda who was subject to a bizarre and harmful exorcism ritual; a Chinese whistle-blower who exposed billions of dollars of corruption and then faced threats from powerful businessmen; democratic activists from Egypt imprisoned after the Tahrir Square crackdown; religious converts from Iran who face death for their apostasy. The list goes on and on.

    Indeed, people don’t come to America because they’re doing great in their homeland. They come here because they want a better life, and the stories about why they left and how they came here are often riveting.

    Here’s my theory: Even people who generally oppose immigration will support the immigrants that they know personally or who they feel a connection to. For example, the only legislative amendment to the legal definition of “refugee” came when pro-life advocates lobbied Congress to make asylum available to victims of forced family planning. Pro-lifers are not necessarily associated with liberal immigration policies, but through this legislation, they greatly expanded the number of people eligible for asylum. On a more interpersonal level, I have a friend who worked for Pat Buchanan, the anti-immigrant firebrand who once challenged President George H.W. Bush for the Republican nomination. My friend’s fishing buddy—an immigrant from West Africa—was arrested for assault and battery against a police officer. My friend referred the case to me, and when we ultimately won, my friend sent me a note: “You did the most important thing a person can do, you made me look good for recommending you.” I love that. The point, of course, is that even a Pat Buchanan supporter was sympathetic to the immigrant he knew personally.

    Why should this be the case? Why should people who normally oppose—and even hate—immigrants still support the immigrants they know?

    I think the simple truth is that immigrants are no different than anyone else. And for most people, when they hear stories of struggle and survival, and of love and gratitude for America, it’s difficult not to be sympathetic. In other words, if immigrants and their supporters can get people to listen to immigrant’s stories and to meet immigrants in-person, we win.

    The difficulty lies in making the connection, and in getting people to listen. How can we do that?

    First, I think we need to connect in-person, not through traditional or social media. The problem with the media is that it has become so Balkanized as to be largely useless for bridging ideological divides. In addition, media "interactions" are generally too superficial to change minds. Personal connections are harder to achieve, but they are far more powerful, convincing, and long-lasting.

    Second, we need to invite people in and make them comfortable. We should not put them on the defensive. This means engaging them on their turf, not ours. It means listening to people with different points of view, and not judging them. Most people who oppose immigrants and refugees are not bigots and xenophobes. They are not irrational. But in many cases, they do not have all the facts. They do not personally know refugees, and have not heard their stories. We may not be able to change their minds, but at least we can provide them with more information, and give them a more complete picture (a picture, by the way, which is sorely lacking in our partisan media environment).

    Finally, we need to accept that some people will not be persuaded, no matter how compelling the story, or how many statistics we cite. We need to respect that decision, and this often requires self-control. It also requires recognizing that it’s not easy for a person to change her views. Sometimes, all you can do is tell your story and accept that there is no perceptible change. Perhaps, though, we can hope that a positive interaction will at least plant a seed in the person’s mind, and maybe that is enough.

    So how does this work in practice? If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that my three favorite words are, I don't know (in fact, I don't even know if "I don't know" counts as three words or four!). But here's how I would imagine implementing this idea:

    Refugees and asylum seekers (and their supporters) would reach out to a church, school or community association, and ask to come tell their stories. The purpose would not be to debate refugee or immigration policy. Instead, it would be to tell a personal narrative and express gratitude for what American has offered. Hopefully, the audience would consist of people with little exposure to non-citizens. Or better yet, an audience that is skeptical of "illegals." Preferably, the speakers would be proficient in English (and presumably, if you've read this far, you are proficient in English). After the story, perhaps there could be a Q&A. And that's it. It does not have to be political. It does not have to specifically touch on policy. It would just be individuals connecting, telling stories, and listening.

    So maybe if you are an asylum seeker or refugee, and you've read this far, you would consider reaching out to your neighbors and telling your story. Or if you are a member of a religious or civic group that might benefit from hearing refugee stories, you'd consider contacting a refugee organization for a speaker. In this way, one person at a time, we can change the world for the better.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
    Tags: asylum, politics Add / Edit Tags
  4. Tips from a Former Asylum Officer

    Heidi Boas has dedicated her legal career to assisting asylum-seekers, refugees, and other immigrants through her work with the U.S. Government, United Nations, and non-profit organizations. Heidi served as a Senior Asylum Officer at the Arlington Asylum Office (2014-2017) and currently practices immigration law at Wilkes Legal, LLC in Takoma Park, MD. Heidi’s full biography can be found here.



    Heidi Boas

    Contact Heidi Boas at
    heidi@wilkeslegal.com. To schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney at Wilkes Legal, LLC, visit our website or call (301) 576-0491.

    Given the large backlog and heavy caseload at the asylum office, asylum officers are under significant pressure to complete cases as efficiently as possible. An asylum officer is allocated an average of four hours to complete each asylum case, which involves some steps that you and your attorney don’t see—including about an hour spent drafting the written decision, and about forty minutes working on security checks and other administrative tasks. When you add those steps to the two hours that an asylum officer spends conducting the average asylum interview, the officer may have only about twenty minutes to review your file before calling you in for the interview. When preparing your asylum case, therefore, it is helpful to keep the asylum officer’s time constraints in mind and avoid submitting extraneous information.

    Below are some tips from my perspective as a former asylum officer on how to prepare an effective and efficient asylum claim:


    The Personal Statement

    The personal statement is arguably the most important document in your asylum application, but it does not need to be very long. If the asylum officer only has twenty minutes to review your file, she probably will not have time to read your attorney’s lengthy legal brief, but she should always take time to read your personal statement. Given the time pressure that the officer is under, it is best to keep your personal statement concise and to the point. I recommend limiting it to a length of five pages or less. State up front why you are applying for asylum—What harm did you suffer in the past or do you fear in the future? Why were you harmed in the past, and/or why do you fear harm in the future? Avoid including extraneous information such as details about your family background, education, and employment history. Basic information about your background is included in the Form I-589 Application for Asylum, and additional detail is often irrelevant to your asylum claim. The main purpose of the personal statement is to focus on any harm that you suffered in the past and any harm you fear in the future. Leave general references to country conditions out of the personal statement and focus on telling your story. Finally, make sure that you fully understand the contents of your personal statement before signing it, and that the statement has been translated back to you word-for-word in your language.


    Supporting Documents

    Keeping in mind the asylum officer’s time constraints, you should avoid submitting extraneous or duplicative documents in support of your asylum claim. For example, it is usually not helpful to submit copies of your diplomas or school records, as these documents are usually irrelevant to your asylum claim. It is also unnecessary to submit hundreds of pages of country conditions documents. Asylum officers are already familiar with human rights conditions in many countries and keep their own country conditions excerpts on hand to use when writing decisions. If an asylum officer is not already familiar with the situation in your country, the officer will conduct research and find relevant information to include in his or her written decision. Asylum officers generally consult the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, as these reports are considered an objective and reliable source of information. Since asylum officers have their own resources for finding country conditions information, you should be mindful of the number of pages you submit and highlight any excerpts of a report that you want the officer to focus on.


    Form I-589

    Take the time to carefully prepare the Form I-589 Application for Asylum, including details about where you have lived, your education, and your employment history. This can help save time when the asylum officer reviews the form with you during your interview. If you have several changes or corrections to make to Form I-589 at the interview, it is helpful to provide the officer with a list of your changes. The asylum officer is still required to note any corrections or changes by hand on the original Form I-589, but your list can help save the officer some time.

    Under “other names used,” list as aliases any alternate spellings (including misspellings) or alternate versions of your name that you have used. By listing these other names on Form I-589, you can help avoid delays during the security check process. After receiving the asylum application, the asylum office will automatically run security checks on any names listed on Form I-589. If the asylum officer learns during or after the interview that you have used another version or spelling of your name that was not initially listed on Form I-589, the officer must then initiate the security check process for that name, which could cause a delay in receiving your decision.


    The Legal Argument

    Asylum officers are required to undergo an extensive six-week training program in asylum law, and pass exams before adjudicating asylum cases. In addition, they continue receiving weekly training throughout their tenure at the asylum office. If confronted with a challenging or unfamiliar legal issue, asylum officers are encouraged to refer to the Asylum Officer Training Manual or consult a supervisor.

    In light of the training that asylum officers receive and the significant time constraints they face, it is not necessary to submit a lengthy legal brief in support of your asylum case. The asylum officer probably won’t have time to read the brief word-for-word and may not have time to read it at all. If you or your attorney are making a novel legal argument or referencing new case law and want to submit your argument in writing, try to keep your analysis as concise as possible. A succinct cover letter can suffice, for example, instead of a lengthy brief.


    Preparing for the Interview

    When preparing for the asylum interview, don’t avoid addressing the tough issues. A critical part of an asylum officer’s job is to assess your credibility, so you should discuss with your attorney any potential credibility issues that could arise and be prepared for questions about those issues at your interview. An asylum officer is required to confront you about any inconsistencies in your testimony or application, give you an opportunity to explain the inconsistency, and then assess the reasonableness of your response. Be prepared to respond calmly and provide an explanation for any inconsistencies, rather than reacting defensively to the officer’s question.


    After the Interview

    After the interview, if you strongly disagree with the asylum officer’s decision, consider filing a Motion to Reopen or Reconsider. No form or filing fee is required. The motion should be filed within 30 days, or later if you can show the delay was reasonable and beyond your control. It is best to submit the motion by letter to the asylum office as soon as possible after receiving your decision. If the asylum office receives your motion soon enough, it can decide to call you back in for a re-interview before serving a Notice to Appear ("NTA") on the court. Alternatively, if the NTA has already been served on the court, the asylum office can ask Immigration and Customers Enforcement to terminate the NTA and recall the case to the asylum office for another interview.

    If you have been waiting months or years since your interview to receive a decision from the asylum office, you might consider filing a writ of mandamus. A mandamus can help incentivize the asylum office to call you in for another interview and finally issue a decision. Even if the asylum office’s decision is not a positive one, you can move forward with presenting your case before the immigration judge and then pursuing any necessary appeals.

    Originally posted at www.Asylumist.com.

    Updated 03-28-2018 at 08:18 AM by JDzubow

    Tags: asylum Add / Edit Tags
  5. Attorney General Seeks to Limit Asylum... Or Something

    The Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, has been busy "certifying" cases to himself in order to (apparently) reduce protections for certain asylum seekers. I want to talk about two cases in particular, but first, let's talk about the process that Mr. Sessions is following.


    "Oh Magoo, you've done it again!"

    The decisions in question involve cases that were before the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA" or "Board"), the administrative appellate body that interprets the nation's immigration laws. The BIA has been called (sometimes derisively) the "Supreme Court of immigration law." The BIA is not actually a court in the normal sense of the word (and, by the way, neither are the Immigration Courts). Instead, it is an office within the U.S. Department of Justice. The leader of the Department of Justice is the Attorney General ("AG"). So in essence, the BIA derives its power from the AG, who is the ultimate "decider" when it comes to BIA cases.

    What has been happening recently is that Mr. Sessions has been "certifying" cases from the BIA to himself. Basically, this means that he is taking the cases from the BIA and changing the Board's decisions. In a sense, this is nothing new--previous AGs have done the same thing on occasion. But the concern here is two-fold: Substantively, the AG seems to be moving towards limiting the scope of asylum protections in some types of cases, and procedurally, the AG's actions do not comport with due process of law, at least as that concept is understood in non-totalitarian countries.

    The first case I want to discuss is Matter of E-F-H-L-, 27 I&N Dec. 226 (AG 2018). In that case, the AG vacated a 2014 BIA decision (also called Matter of E-F-H-L-) and returned the matter to the Immigration Judge (the letters in the case name refer to the alien's initials). The 2014 case stands for the proposition that an asylum applicant is entitled to a hearing on the merits of her application, including an opportunity to provide oral testimony and other evidence, "without first having to establish prima facie eligibility for the requested relief." In other words, the case is widely viewed as re-affirming the right to a hearing, even if the asylum claim, as articulated by the applicant, is legally insufficient.

    In civil litigation, there is something called "failure to state a claim." Judges routinely dismiss lawsuits if they determine that a litigant's claim--even if taken as true--does not entitled the litigant to relief. In our adversarial system, this makes sense. Why waste a court's time (or the jury's time) adjudicating the facts of a case if those facts do not entitle the claimant to any relief? And why not do the same thing for asylum applicants?

    The main objection is that many asylum applicants are unrepresented, and do not know how to articulate their claims effectively. Only in the course of testimony might an applicant's claim become apparent (and that is especially true in a case like E-F-H-L-, where there is a complicated "particular social group" analysis). Most Immigration Court hearings are fairly truncated affairs to begin with, and so further curtailing an applicant's ability to present his case makes it even more likely that overworked judges will take the easy route and dismiss an asylum claim before the applicant is able to fully develop his case. The result, of course, will be that legitimate asylum seekers are denied protection.

    So it is concerning that Mr. Sessions has vacated E-F-H-L-. But what comes next is not yet clear. The case has been returned to the Immigration Court for further decision-making, and as I read the case, it seems unlikely that the Judge or the BIA would need to rule on E-F-H-L-'s right to a full hearing. According to the AG's decision, E-F-H-L- married a U.S. citizen and withdrew his asylum claim. If that is true, there is little reason to think we will hear anything more about this particular case.

    The problem, though, is that the AG presumably vacated E-F-H-L- for a reason. I expect the reason is that he wants to create a new standard (in a different alien's case) for adjudicating asylum claims. What this standard will be, we do not yet know, but given Mr. Sessions's jaundiced view of asylum seekers, I'm not feeling optimistic. Whatever he does, Mr. Sessions is limited by the statute and by the courts, and so hopefully, it will not be as bad as we fear.

    The second case I want to discuss is Matter of A-B-, 27 I&N Dec. 227 (BIA 2018). Mr. Sessions has certified that BIA case to himself and requested new briefs (legal arguments) from the parties and from amici (interested organizations). The question Mr. Sessions wants briefed is this:

    Whether, and under what circumstances, being a victim of private criminal activity constitutes a cognizable “particular social group” for purposes of an application for asylum or withholding of removal.

    We don't know, but presumably the goal here is to block asylum seekers who fear harm from "private criminal activity." This might, for example, block people fleeing harm from gangs in Central America, or victims of domestic violence. It potentially affects other types of asylum claims as well.

    The main problem is that Mr. Sessions has asked for briefing on a question that is vague. He has not given us the facts of the case, thus making it difficult to write an effective brief, since cases are fact specific. He even tried to hide the name of the attorney representing A-B-; perhaps in an effort to block advocates from learning more about the case.

    This is not how due process works, and I imagine that whatever decision the AG issues in A-B- will be vulnerable to review by the federal appellate courts, which tend to look askance at such blatant (and amateurish) violations of due process.

    That the Attorney General of the United States would engage in such obvious procedural misfeasance is very concerning. Since we don't know what the AG is really asking for, his request for amici briefs is completely disingenuous. Indeed, even if you favor limiting the scope of asylum, you should be concerned when our country's top law enforcement officer demonstrates such contempt for the rule of law.

    Where the AG is heading with all this, we shall see. The widespread belief among advocates is that in anticipation of DACA and TPS ending, Mr. Sessions is planning to roll back protections for certain asylum seekers, specifically people facing harm from gangs and also victims of domestic violence. But he could also be targeting LGBT asylum seekers who fear community (as opposed to government) persecution, victims of female genital mutilation, and victims of terrorist groups, among others.

    Finally, it’s difficult not to see the irony here. For years, advocates for asylum seekers have been litigating to expand protections for a wider range of persecuted individuals, particular women, who often face harm not contemplated by the people (mostly white men) who came up with the definition of “refugee” after World War II. However, by pursuing litigation—rather than legislation—we have left ourselves vulnerable to a restrictionist Administration that now seeks to contract that definition.

    Don’t get me wrong—I certainly don’t blame advocates for our current woes; we tried and failed legislatively at least once. But I do hope that if the pendulum swings back, and the public mood becomes more favorable, we will try again to create a refugee law that is more in-tune with the types of harm individuals face today. Until then, we are stuck litigating our clients’ cases in an uncertain environment, against an Attorney General who has little interest in playing by the rules.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
    Tags: asylum, sessions Add / Edit Tags
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