Asylum News 68

Asylum Denied More Often by Politically Vetted Judges; DOJ Failure to Increase Number of Judges An August 24, 2008 analysis by The New York Times revealed that immigration judges who were vetted for political affiliations before being hired disproportionately denied asylum. The analysis was based on statistics obtained by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), associated with Syracuse University. On July 28, 2008, the Inspector General of the Department of Justice had issued a report documenting the politicized hiring of immigration judges and others within the Department of Justice. Another TRAC study found that there has been no increase in the number of immigration judges despite the Justice Department’s 2006 commitment to increase the number of judges. Click here to read the August 24, 2008 New York Times Article Click here to read the July 28, 2008 Report by the Justice Department Office of the Inspector General Click here to read the July 28, 2008 TRAC Report. DHS Considers Medical Care as “Material Support” The U.S. Department of Homeland Security continues to take the position that the provision of medical care constitutes “material support” when provided to injured members of an armed group. A recent piece, researched by ABC news, profiled the cases of a Sudanese doctor who treated rebels in Darfur and a Nepalese medical worker who was kidnapped and forced to provide aid to Maoist rebels. Click here to read the story Attorney General Overturns Previous Rulings on Coerced Population Control On May 15, 2008, the U.S. Attorney General issued a decision in Matter of J-S-, holding that spouses of individuals subjected to forced sterilization or abortion do not qualify as refugees by that fact alone.  The decision in this case, which the Attorney General had ordered the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to certify to him last September, overturns the BIA’s holdings in two earlier precedential cases, Matter of C-Y-Z-, 21 I&N Dec. 915 (BIA 1997) and Matter of S-L-L-, 24 I&N Dec. 1 (BIA 2006)(en banc), that the spouses of victims of forced abortion or sterilization should automatically be considered to meet the refugee definition on that basis.  In his decision, the Attorney General notes that such applicants may still qualify for asylum or refugee status based on a showing of past persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution based on their own failure or refusal to undergo sterilization or abortion, their resistance to coercive population control, or other grounds recognized under U.S. law. Click here to read the May 15, 2008 decision in Matter of J-S-, 24 I&N 520 (A.G. 2008) Attorney General Certified Cases Address Effective Assistance of Counsel before Immigration Courts On August 7, 2008, the U.S Attorney General certified to himself three unpublished BIA decisions addressing the question of whether and to what extent non-citizens who are represented in immigration proceedings have a right to effective assistance of counsel.   In reviewing the three cases, the Attorney General will also examine whether and how requirements set forth in Matter of Lozada, 19 I&N Dec. 637 (1988) shall continue to apply to claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.  A range of groups have written to the Attorney General protesting the surprise nature of this decision to reexamine longstanding precedents and the tight deadline (September 15, 2008) and word limits (9,000 words) imposed on amicus briefs. Board of Immigration Appeals Rules on Gang-Based Asylum Cases In a July 30, 2008 decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals, the BIA ruled that Salvadoran youth who have been subjected to and resisted or rejected gang recruitment based on opposition to gang values, as well as their family members, do not constitute a particular social group (Matter of S-E-G-, 24 I&N Dec. 579 (BIA 2008). In a ruling issued the same day in the Matter of E-A-G-, 24 I&N Dec. 591 (BIA 2008), the court ruled in a case of a young Honduran male that he had not established that he was a member of a social group of “persons resistant to gang membership.” The BIA also ruled that a social group of “young persons who are perceived to be affiliated with gangs,” does not constitute a social group.  In both cases the BIA found that individuals who refuse gang recruitment fail the “social visibility” test and therefore do not constitute a social group. Click here to read the July 30, 2008 decision in Matter of S-E-G- Click here to read the July 30, 2008 decision in Matter of E-A-G- Congressional Committee Hears Testimony on Medical Care in Immigrant Detention On June 4, 2008, the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law held a hearing on “Problems with Immigration Detainee Medical Care.” The hearing addressed many of the issues recently raised in a four part Washington Post series on the deficiencies in medical and mental health care provided for detainees in immigrant detention. Among the witnesses testifying were Julie Myers, the Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in DHS, the Acting Director of the Division of Immigration Health Services (DIHS) within ICE, as well as former detainees, representatives of the NGO and medical care community and an HRF pro bono attorney whose refugee client was severely impacted by the insufficient medical care she received. Click here to access a webcast of the hearing Click here to read 6/5/08 Washington Post article HRF Welcomes Bipartisan Senate Bill on Immigrant Detention Reforms On June 11, 2008, Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Senator Sam Brownback (R-Ks.), Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Senator Chuck Hagel, (R-Neb.) introduced the 2008 Secure and Safe Detention and Asylum Act, S. 3114. The bill addresses some of the most pressing issues facing asylum seekers and other immigrants in detention today and includes provisions for immigration court review of detention of asylum seekers, nationwide alternatives to detention, and improvements in medical care provided to detained immigrants. Many of the bill’s provisions address concerns raised in a 2005 report by the bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom relating to the detention of asylum seekers. Read 2008 Secure and Safe Detention and Asylum Act Read HRF Statement commending Senators Read the Senate Statement on the Bill Second Circuit Issues Ruling on Female Genital Cutting On June 11, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denials in the asylum cases of three Guinean women. The women had each expressed fear of returning to Guinea, including, in two cases, fear for the safety of their daughters. The three-judge panel of the Court ruled that although the women had already experienced genital cutting as children in Guinea, that experience is not necessarily a “one-time act” of persecution nor the only kind of future persecution the women may face. Read the Second Circuit Decision Read the 6/12/08 New York Times Article June 20 Marks Annual World Refugee Day June 20 was World Refugee Day, a day that has been celebrated annually since the adoption of a U.N. resolution in December 2000. This year’s theme focused on protection of refugees. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, remarked that “refugees show incredible courage and perseverance in overcoming enormous odds to rebuild their lives. Ensuring that they get the protection they deserve is a noble cause because refugee rights are human rights – and rights that belong to us all.” Events celebrating the day were held all over the world. For more information, click here. Annual World Refugee Survey Released The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants released the 2008 World Refugee Survey on Thursday, June 19. In addition to providing profiles of the treatment of refugees and refugee policies in various countries around the world, the survey takes a closer look at countries considered to be the worst places for refugees. Read the 2008 World Refugee Survey


Published on August 1, 2008


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