US Simplifies Rejection Process for Asylum Claims

The Obama Administration recently moved to make it easier for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) officers to reject the so-called “credible fear” claims by illegal immigrants captured along the border.  After the increasing number of such claims, the CIS is clarifying its standards for evaluating asylum requests.

At issue is the standards applied to asylum claims by immigrants captured along the U.S./Mexico border region. Current regulations require the immigrant making the credible fear claim must have a “significant possibility” of winning an asylum claim before a judge.  According to a report in the San Antonio Express-News, John Lafferty, chief of the CIS Asylum Division defined “significant possibility” as requiring petitioners to “demonstrate a substantial and realistic possibility of succeeding in court.”

Lafferty expressed concern that this standard was not being applied consistently and called for new training for officers.  "In light of concerns that the application of the 'significant possibility' standard has lately been interpreted to require only a minimal or mere possibility of success, the revised (guidance) clearly states that a claim that has no possibility or only a minimal or mere possibility does not meet the ... standard," Lafferty wrote.

The result of the inconsistent application of the standard has been a surge in illegal immigrants who would otherwise be deported without a hearing, being scheduled for a hearing and then released into the community pending the hearing which might not occur for years.  Lafferty noted a 250 percent increase in the number of “credible fear” claims that have been forwarded to courts for hearings. From 2012-2013 over 36,000 “credible fear” claims were filed according to a 2013 Congressional Research Service Report on asylum

In August 2013, journalist Lee Stranahan addressed the issue of asylum requests overwhelming the system in a Breitbart News piece titled, "Sudden Flood of Asylum Requests at U.S./Mexico Border." His piece revealed what seemed to be a rehearsed and coordinated effort on the part of non-citizens to use key phrases and catchwords in an effort to gain legal entry into the United States.

Other statistics from the CIS show the vast majority of the “credible fear” claims were approved and sent to an immigration judge for a final decision.  Once this occurs, the immigrants are released and allowed to apply for work permits while their cases are pending, which can take years to reach the courtroom and a judge.

If the claim is rejected by the detaining officers, the illegal immigrant, who was captured near the border, is subjected to “expedited removal” which allows them to be deported without seeing a judge.  The odds of a judge finding in their favor are remote according to statistics. Therefore, the more liberal application of the principle allows many illegal immigrants, who should rightfully be deported, an opportunity to cheat the system and obtain a temporary legal status while awaiting their undeserved day in court.

This refocus on the execution of existing policy as it is written--instead of how it has been applied should reduce the numbers of fraudulent claims of credible fear, but some immigration attorneys do not agree.  El Paso immigration attorney Carlos Spector told the San Antonio Express-News that the memo from Lafferty converts CIS asylum officers into immigration judges.  “The message here is: You are now empowered to send people back,” Spector said.

CRS Report on Asylum by BreitbartTexas

Follow Bob Price on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX 

Breitbart Texas Managing Director Brandon Darby contributed to this report.


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