In a major step forward for immigration law, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit recently ruled that immigrants who are undocumented have a constitutional right to have a federal court review their denial for asylum.
Asylum is granted to foreigners who are escaping persecution from their home countries for reasons outlined in U.S. and international law. The asylum-seeker must show “credible fear,” which is when they show that there is a “significant possibility” that they would be subject to persecution or torture if sent back to their home country. The persecution back home would be based on race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or membership in a specific social group.
If granted asylum, asylum-seekers are allowed to legally stay in the U.S. without deportation, be allowed to work, and even get an asylum status for their spouse or child.
The first step in the asylum process is that the immigrant must show they will be persecuted or tortured if they go back to their country—and now, if denied asylum, they can appeal this finding to a judge. Immigrants under the 9th Circuit jurisdiction can have their case reviewed by a federal judge in order to prove credible fear and earn the chance for their denial to be appealed.
This ruling came after the number of reviews by immigration judges for asylum-seekers has steadily decreased since January of 2018. The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse found that, in 2018, they only saw 15% of immigration reviews had credible fear, which is half of what was seen in 2017. Migrants are still getting reviews now, but under Trump, overturns of denials have decreased. With the new ruling, asylum-seekers can have their day in court before being sent back to their home countries to face persecution.
As citizens of the United States, it’s easy for us to look lightly at the process of seeking asylum. Chances are we have never faced torture or persecution because of our religious, political or social beliefs. However, this is a reality for millions of people around the world. For them, seeking asylum in the United States could be a life-saving act. This ruling marks a major step forward in U.S. immigration law, offering hope to so many immigrants who—until now—have had very little.
Of course, under current administration, U.S. immigration policy is changing on what feels like a daily basis. If you are seeking asylum or have questions about the process in general, take your opportunity to ask me one question…completely free! Just enter your question into the form below and I will be in touch with an answer shortly.