An asylee is an alien in the United States or at a port of entry who is most likely found to be unable or willing to return to his or her country of origin or may be seeking the protection of the United States, because of persecution or a well- founded fear of persecution
When the individual becomes fearful or even persecuted, most times it’s based on the individual’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. For example, if there is a political opponent of a powerful regime who suffered imprisonment or threats due to his or her political beliefs is a good candidate for asylee status. But, on the other hand, a person who is fleeing poverty or a natural disaster is not. For those without any nationality, the country of nationality is the country in which the alien last resided. Asylees are eligible to adjust lawful permanent resident (LPR) status after a year of continuous presence in the United States. The domestic asylum law provides any person at a port of entry to the United States who claims credible and reasonable fear about returning to his or her country is afforded some form of Due Process in America. This allows any immigrant to contest an action that is proposed by the U.S. government in front of a neutral decision maker, someone like a judge.
During the Trump’s administration, there was an increased number in migration at the U.S. southern border, the Trump administration has implemented a range of policies designed to deter migrants from coming or to expedite their removal once they arrive. Trump’s administration had justified their approach with inaccurate claims that many migrants pose public policy safety threats that allowed only a few humanitarians relief despite clear evidence that more families and children were arriving from Central America fleeing persecution and violence.
Majority of asylum claims in the United States fail or are rejected. One third of asylum seekers go to courts unrepresented although those with legal representation have higher chances of winning. The effect of these policies had been the reason for denial of access to the humanitarian protection without any notable improvements in the processing of migrants’ claims. The humanitarian process in Central America demands a new approach that will allow migrants to process in an efficient and orderly way while ensuring those who qualify for relief will receive asylum or other humanitarian protection.
The U.S. government needs to coordinate a strategic way to allow other countries within the U.S to address the root causes and effect of the current migration and provide a robust humanitarian response to protect those fleeing danger. In the long-term, these solutions will be more effective in providing a fair, orderly, and efficient system for processing asylum seekers and other migrants.
ASYLUM BY NUMBERS
In 2016, 115,399 affirmative asylum applications and cases where the individual presented himself at a port of entry and presented evidence that he is seeking entry as an asylee, which was filed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This was an increase of 39 percent from 2015. It is also the seventh consecutive annual increase and the highest level since 1995, when applications reached close to 144,000.
The total number of defensive asylum applications and cases where an individual(s) entered the U.S. illegally but presented evidence of a legitimate claim of asylum to pause their removal or deportation from the United States, was increased to 65,218 in 2016. Since 2015, the application had gone up by 45,770, which was the largest number of applications that came from individuals who were coming from the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA)—Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
CHALLENGES: lack of legal representation, detention conditions, separation of parents and children at the border, and immigration waiver
The most pressuring issue of the United States asylum system is the fact that there is so much backlog of asylum cases that keeps on growing. There is a lot of delays and confusions in the system which often leaves and individual waiting for years; 2-5 years to get into the courts, and a prolonging separation from their families.
Granting an individual counsel allows immigration judges to offload tasks, like eliciting critical facts from applicants to the appointed lawyers. Legal counsel can also expeditiously review copies of relevant documents provided by the Department of Homeland Security. In many cases, children qualify for asylee status, but their age, lack of English skills, and ignorance of the legal process can leave them without a fair chance of successfully applying for legal entry and status.
A report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Homeland Security in December 2017found overly aggressive enforcement, poor hygiene, a lack of adequate medical care, and potentially unsafe food at detention facilities. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) concurred in the findings and agreed to take the necessary corrective actions, but the problem persists, and in some cases, are getting worse.
It is very important that the United States track the children who are separated from their parents, especially infants. The protocol for handling the children and strategy for ensuring children are reunited with their parents safely. Since October 2017, the federal government has separated more than 700 children, and out of the 700 children that were separated from their parents at the border, were under the age of 4.
Following a directive from Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April 2017, prosecutions for illegal entry or re-entry to the United States had gone up by nearly 500 percent. The policy is becoming more and more problematic, which is due to the nature of these prosecutions; since most are guilty plea agreements that avoids detention or incarceration, individuals forgo rights associated with criminal defenses, like and appeal. Many agreements stipulate “immigration waivers,” that require the defendant to forgo claims for asylum or parole, regardless of whether they may have legitimate rights to claim relief.
The U.S. government can increase the capacity and efficiency of the adjudication process by building up the corps of asylum officers and improving the functioning of the immigration court system. Ensuring that migrants have legal representation will also increase the efficiency and fairness of proceedings. There is a number of individuals that are seeking protection at the U.S. southern border as things continue to surge. The U.S. has resorted to policies that are fueling the sense of crisis and disorder. The U.S. needs to implement a more efficient and orderly system that will help process border arrivals smoothly without compromising due process or the humanitarian protections guaranteed under the U.S. law. These solutions are less costly than policies that relies heavily on detention. There is a number of ways and options to help improve justice and increase the efficiency of the U.S. asylum process, and to ensure that credible asylum seekers are able to fine refugees in America. It is up to Congress and the President to make pass the right laws and put them into effect, laws that will benefit individuals to a fair and smooth process.
“Asylum Denial Rates Continue to Climb.” Asylum Denial Rates Continue to Climb, https://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/630/.
“Attorney General Announces Zero-Tolerance Policy for Criminal Illegal Entry.” The United States Department of Justice, 6 Apr. 2018, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-announces-zero-tolerance-policy-criminal-illegal-entry.
“Home.” USCIS, https://www.uscis.gov/.
Hundreds of Immigrant Children Have … – The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/20/us/immigrant-children-separation-ice.html.
Nadwa Mossaad and Ryan Baugh – Homeland Security. https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Refugees_Asylees_2016.pdf.
OIG-18-32 – United States Department of Homeland Security. https://www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/2017-12/OIG-18-32-Dec17.pdf.
“Southwest Land Border Encounters.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection, https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/southwest-land-border-encounters.
Statement of the American Immigration Council. https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/sites/default/files/general_litigation/statement_stopping_the_daily_border_caravan_time_to_build_a_policy_wall.pdf.