On April 21, 2017, a Nicaraguan man applying for asylum in Florida was deported back to his native country, despite a history of threats made against him, and the fact that his application was in process. There has been considerable outrage over this matter, but also some confusion.
Immigration laws are not being enforced in the manner to which most people are accustomed, and this can lead to paralysis. Understanding your rights can help protect you.
Refugees vs. Asylees
Many people who are uninformed are prone to confuse refugees and asylees, while arguing that the former should be permitted to enter the United States and the latter should not. In reality, the only real difference between the two classes is that refugees must apply for status while still outside the country, and asylees must do so after entry, regardless of whether that entry was with or without inspection. Either way, the person applying is doing so out of a well-founded, credible fear of persecution if he or she is returned to his or her home country.
Both groups must meet a strict standard, unlike many who labor under the impression that being granted asylum is easy. The applicant’s “well-founded, credible fear of persecution” must be due to one or more of five characteristics: race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group (PSG). This last is a sort of catch-all for those who do not fit any of the other four criteria, though the PSG an asylee seeks to define must be quite narrow—for example, in a case called Matter of A-R-C-G-, the group the applicant sought to define was women of her particular nationality who had been the victims of domestic violence and received no help from authorities. Because the stakes are so high, most who lose at the immigration judge level are granted the right to appeal.
During the Process
Once you have applied for asylum, you must provide evidence, whether oral or written, that backs up your claim of persecution under the grounds, which are based on the 1951 Geneva Convention definition of a refugee. If you lack evidence, your claim may be denied, but you do have the right of appeal in most cases.
While that appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is pending, you usually cannot be deported. However, it is crucial to understand that in some cases, removal is permissible—most often, if you failed to appear at your original hearing, or if you unknowingly waived removal during the proceedings in front of the immigration judge.
It is also possible for a potential asylee to be deported while his or her claim is pending if he or she disqualifies himself or herself. This most often happens if the person commits a crime of a certain degree or type. Asylum may be granted if the standards are met, but most asylees and refugees eventually receive permission to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident. If someone commits any crime that can be termed an aggravated felony, then he or she has disqualified himself or herself from being able to show the good moral character necessary to adjust status.
Seek Experienced Legal Help
Asylum and refugee claims can be life and death matters. Therefore, if you are denied at the immigration judge level, making sure your appeal is as it should be is critical. The dedicated Chicago asylum attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC will work hard to ensure that you receive an appropriate outcome. Contact us today to set up an initial appointment.
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