Trump Creates Even More Barriers to Asylum-Seekers

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Trump Creates Even More Barriers to Asylum-Seekers

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Beginning today, September 23, 2020, asylum seekers are not allowed to bring their own interpreters if they speak one of 47 languages specified in the regulation.  Those languages include: Akan, Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Bengali, Burmese, Cantonese, Creole/Haitian Creole, Farsi-Afghani/Dari, Farsi-Iranian, Foo Chow/Fuzhou, French, Georgian, Gujarati, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Indonesia/Bahasa, Konjobal, Korean, Kurdish, Lingala, Mam, Mandarin, Nepali, Pashto/Pushtu, Portuguese, Punjabi, Quiche/K’iche, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Sinhalese, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Tamil, Tigrinya, Turkish, Twi, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, or Vietnamese.  Although the justification for this rule is to minimize exposure due to COVID, this puts asylum seekers at a distinct disadvantage because they may not be able to fully understand the interpreter the government provides thus leading to miscommunications and questioning the applicant’s credibility which is essential for all asylum seekers.  The administration enacted this rule for 180 days without the opportunity for the public to comment as to the rule’s potential effects on asylum seekers’ ability to communicate effectively through interpreters during their interviews.

Another proposed rule that does allow for public comment and won’t take effect immediately has to do with deadlines for filing asylum applications with the immigration court and other restrictions that put asylum seekers without an attorney at a distinct disadvantage.  The changes include:

  1. Asylum applications (I-589) must be filed within 15 days of the first Master Calendar Hearing or else any asylum application will be deemed abandoned.
  2. There must be a response to each and every question, must be signed and include required supporting evidence listed on the form and instructions. Otherwise the application will be incomplete and can be rejected by the immigration judge.
  3. Applicants must have paid the $50 filing fee required by USCIS beginning in October.
  4. Makes documentation from U.S. government sources more powerful while requiring that the immigration judge determine that reports or other evidence from other sources (such as non-governmental organizations) provide evidence and are credible before the judge can take those sources into consideration.
  5. Allows judges to use their own evidence and consider it as part of the asylum seeker’s claim.
  6. Forces judges and asylum seekers to resolve their cases faster by limiting the ability of judges to set filing deadlines longer than 6 months in the future and restricting asylum seekers’ requests for continuance for more than 6 months.

In the days leading up to the election, we only anticipate even more and harsher restrictions to the ability to claim asylum in this country. If you or someone you know has an asylum claim or case, call Joseph and Hall to make sure that the claim is not wrongfully denied based on these unfair rules.

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