The June asylum reform set by Attorney General Jeff Sessions is quietly having a huge impact on border migration, lawyers told the New York Times.
“I haven’t met a single person in the last few weeks who passed their credible-fear interview,” according to Allegra Love, executive director of an immigration law firm in New Mexico, the Santa Fe Dreamers Project. “We have never seen such a high volume of denials,” she told the New York Times.
President Barack Obama allowed migrants through the border whenever they claimed to a “credible fear” of abusive spouses and criminal gangs. This catch-and-release policy triggered a wave of Central American migration into the United States.
Sessions’ reform has ended Obama’s spouses-and-gangs loophole and has sharply reduced the number of Central American migrants who are allowed through the border to make a courtroom plea for asylum.
According to the New York Times report:
Immigration attorneys and advocates report that asylum applicants in recent months are failing their crucial initial screenings with asylum officers at the border in record numbers, the first sign that the Trump administration is carrying out promises to reduce the number of people granted asylum in the United States and limit the conditions under which it is granted…
In one case presently underway in Texas, a Honduran woman identified as K. Yadira told authorities that, over a nine-month period, she was driven to a motel and sexually assaulted at gunpoint by a man who she believed worked for the police. He threatened to kill her child every time she tried to resist him. When she moved three hours away to evade him, she said, the assailant found her …
On Ms. Yadira’s official “record of negative credible-fear finding,” reviewed by The New York Times, the asylum officer had ticked the box next to a line that said, “There is no significant possibility that you could establish in a full hearing that the harm you experienced or the harm you fear is on account of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.”
In response, pro-migration groups are trying to get judges to block Sessions’ reforms.
The courtroom attacks on Sessions’ successful reforms are led by an ACLU lawsuit in Washington D.C. In an August 7 statement, the group said:
it has long been clear that an asylum seeker fleeing persecution by someone who is not the government — like a gang, an intimate partner, or a powerful political or social group — is eligible for asylum if she can show that the government is “unable or unwilling” to protect her, meaning that the government will not provide effective protection. But Sessions now wants applicants to have to show that their government either “condoned” the violence or other harm or was “completely helpless” to stop it.
That is not the law and never has been. But the government has now directed asylum officers to fully implement those new, illegal rules to credible fear screenings — leading to unjustified deportations of vulnerable refugees like Grace. And the guidance to asylum officers goes even further, directing them to ignore any court rulings that are inconsistent with Sessions’ new decision. That direction conflicts with the Constitution’s separation of powers principles because, as the Supreme Court explained 200 years ago, it is the courts, not executive branch officials that must ultimately decide “what the law is.”
The lawsuit presents several plaintiffs who have fled countries where legal standards and civic societies are far below the developed levels which evolved in Europe and the United States, and it claims that federal officials have a legal duty to allow afflicted people to live in the United States.
“Providing shelter, safety, and a new life to the victims of persecution has long been part of our national identity, even if not always an ideal we have lived up to,” the ACLU declared in a statement. “The Trump administration’s effort to eliminate that protection betrays our values and flouts our laws. The courts must step in to stop it.”
This is what 29 blanket credible fear interview denials looks like (some are just one page from judge). Every single separated parent I’ve met who had a credible fear interview has been denied. Their main question: will I see my child before I’m deported? #EndFamilySeparation pic.twitter.com/XDpsKPZpBZ
— Blessinger Legal (@blessingerlegal) July 13, 2018