Report: Asylum Denied to Those Who Need ItReport: Asylum Denied to Those Who Need It | The Washington Independent
The United States offers asylum to non-citizens who enter the country because they face serious persecution in their countries of origin. To receive asylum status, immigrants must file an application within one year of entering the country — a rule intended to be a safeguard against abuse of the system by non-persecuted illegal immigrants. But a group of human rights organizations claims the system denies asylum status to thousands of people who face legitimate concerns of persecution based only on filing deadlines.
The fact that many immigrants are denied asylum status only because they missed the deadline is a failure of the system, according to a report released today by National Immigrant Justice Center, Human Rights First and Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights. The study looked at asylum hearing records from the Board of Immigration Appeals and found that about 20 percent missed the one-year filing deadline. Of those, about half were denied asylum based only on missing the deadline. Immigrants can be denied asylum status for a number of other reasons, such as a determination by the Board that their claims of persecution are illegitimate.
Applicants can include children under the age of 21 and spouses in their applications, but at times, the report found, the Board ruled differently on husbands and wives. In at least two cases the report referenced, married couples were separated after filing after the one-year deadline, with the courts allowing the husbands to remain in the country but deporting the wives.
It is understandable that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would create a deadline — after all, the agency must eventually get a chance to determine whether to grant asylum status to immigrants already in the country. Still, as the Obama administration touts its commitment to refugees and asylum, the continued deportation of immigrants who would likely be given asylum status except for a deadline seems contrary to the goals of the process.