The United States is a country founded by immigrants. Many of our forefathers sought a better life in the US where they could be free from religious persecution, famine, war, unjust class systems, and other hardships. Most US citizens probably believe that the current immigration process continues to support those in dire need of a safe – haven, yet they would be surprised to learn that it’s incredibly difficult to receive a grant of asylum.
Asylum seekers apply for asylum after either presenting themselves at the border or entering the US.
So, does the current system work? A recent report in the San Diego Union-Tribune cited bias, capriciousness, and disparities in outcome as features of a broken system that actually deters and prevents asylum-seekers with valid claims from obtaining the safety they need. Many times, asylum – seekers coming to America are eventually returned to their countries where they are persecuted and even killed.
How can we fix this broken system?
Suggested changes to the immigration process for asylum-seekers
Experts have studied the immigration process for asylum and developed a list of suggested changes. A few examples include:
- Removing immigration judges, who are Department of Justice employees, from under the executive branch and make them an independent judiciary like bankruptcy judges.
- Choosing immigration judges with more diverse backgrounds. Many current immigration judges started out as prosecutors under Immigration and Customs Enforcement and are thus more likely to harbor a bias against asylum – seekers.
- Helping asylum-seekers actually get the legal assistance that they need to navigate a very complex immigration court system that baffles even native English speakers.
- Keeping asylum-seekers out of detention centers and ending the process of treating them as criminals while decisions about status are made.
- Striving to create stability in nearby countries to reduce the demand for asylum
The end goal should be something everyone can agree on: discharging our legal duty to provide asylum to those with genuine claims.
Applying for asylum affirmatively or in removal proceedings is an extremely complex process. It’s vastly more difficult for those with few resources, a limited grasp of English, the language, and the overriding fear that failure could result in extended persecution.
Many would agree that it’s time to fix our current system so that today’s asylum-seekers can have the same opportunities as our forefathers.
Still have questions or need help?
The attorneys at Antonini and Cohen create and defend the opportunity for individuals, families, and businesses to seek and achieve the American Dream. Visit us online or call us at (404) 850-9394.
Marshall Cohen is one of the founding principals of Antonini & Cohen. Admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1989, he has practiced immigration law exclusively for over 30 years. Mr. Cohen practices all areas of immigration law including family and employment cases, temporary and permanent visas, naturalization, deportation defense, and federal litigation.