Asylum News 69

Congress Holds EOIR Oversight Hearing On September 23, 2008 the House Judiciary Committee held its first oversight hearing of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), an arm of the Department of Justice (DOJ) that includes the Immigration Courts and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The oversight hearing occurred amidst reports of politicized hiring at DOJ, concerns about the “streamlining” of appeals at the BIA, and criticisms of DOJ’s failure to request appropriations for additional immigration judges. John Conyers (D-MI), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, expressed dismay at how 215 judges could be expected to handle 300,000 cases per year, calling the burden a “crushing workload” that is causing an “appellate mess that is spilling over into the federal courts.” Click here to read the transcript and testimony from the hearing. EOIR Proposed Rule on BIA Streamlining and Affirmance Without Opinion Last month, the American Immigration Lawyers Foundation (AILF) and other groups filed comments expressing concern about a proposed DOJ-EOIR rule change that would enhance the BIA’s discretion to decide whether to issue summary affirmances, called Affirmances Without Opinion (AWO), of immigration judge decisions. AILF expressed concern that the proposed rule was an attempt to limit federal court review of the BIA’s use of the AWO procedure. The proposed rule would also expand the BIA’s authority to refer cases to a three-member panel and authorize publication of precedent decisions by a majority of a three-member panel. Click here to read the proposed rules. Click here to read AILF’s complete comments. BIA Ruling in FGM Case Vacated Last week the Attorney General vacated a 2007 decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals in which it held that a Malian woman who had previously been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) was not eligible for withholding of removal because FGM is a “one-time” act of persecution that cannot be repeated on the same woman. In his decision, the Attorney General noted that the BIA’s ruling was incorrect as a matter of fact and as a matter of law. The case was remanded to the BIA for a decision consistent with the Attorney General’s opinion. Click here to read the decision, Matter of A-T-, 24 I&N Dec. 617 (A.G. 2008). HRF Annual Dinner The 2008 Human Rights First Awards Dinner will take place on Thursday, October 23, at Chelsea Piers in New York City. This year, Human Rights First will salute longtime human rights activist Senator Ted Kennedy and honor two human rights defenders: Oleg Kozlovsky of Russia and Nora Younis of Egypt. For more information, click here. To make reservations, please call 212-573-6933 or [email protected] 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

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Published on September 1, 2008

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