Federal Appeals Court Rules Asylum-Seekers Have Right to Appeal

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In California, a federal appeals court ruled that those who are denied asylum have a right to appeal.

In the United States, to be granted asylum, a migrant must be able to establish that they have a “credible fear” of persecution if they return to their home country. USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) officers are those who decide the application and determine whether they believe a “credible fear” is present.

Currently, asylum decisions can only be appealed to an immigration judge for procedural grounds rather than on the substantive decision that USCIS has made. The federal appeals court decided that this violates the constitutional protections that are granted to non-citizens.

An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, Lee Gelernt, said, “The historical and practical importance of this ruling cannot be overstated…this decision reaffirms the Constitution’s foundational principle that individuals deprived of their liberty must have access to a federal court.”

The federal appellate judges wrote in their opinion, “We think it obvious that the Constitutional minimum…is not satisfied by such a scheme.”

This ruling is particularly relevant now, given the overwhelming number of migrant families trying to enter the U.S. to request asylum. Trump has consistently made asinine comments and threatened to halt processes or make migrants wait for their applications to be adjudicated outside of the United States borders.

Since Trump has taken office, immigration judges have been denying “credible fear” appeals at a higher rate than before. According to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), by June of 2018 only fifteen percent of asylum applicants that appealed to immigration judges were found to have had “credible fear.”

According to ACLU attorneys, the ruling by the federal court will mean that rejected asylum-seekers in the ninth circuit (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) will now be able to request appeals from a federal judge.

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