A Second Chance at Asylum?

boy in fencing, immigration attorneyUnder an agreement, asylum seekers who were separated from their families at the border earlier in 2018 and who were did not pass the credible fear test may now reapply for asylum. The agreement was reached between the federal government and immigration attorneys who sued on behalf of the asylum seekers, and it might affect immigrants in Illinois and elsewhere in the U.S. In the lawsuit, the lawyers had argued that the parents were not given adequate time to prepare their cases and were unable to talk about the dangers they faced in their home countries because of concerns that they had about the whereabouts of their children. The agreement makes it possible for some of these parents and children to be granted refugee status, allowing them to remain in the U.S.

Family Separations and Asylum Hearings

In April 2018, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the federal government was implementing a zero-tolerance policy at the border and would separate parents from their children. Over the next month, a few thousand children were separated from their parents and sent to centers across the nation. Many parents had no idea where their children were located. In the midst of this trauma and chaos, parents were rushed through the asylum process without legal representation. They were expected to pass the credible fear test, which is the first test in the asylum process. This test requires immigrants to demonstrate that they have a credible fear of serious harm or death if they return to their home countries. The immigration attorneys for the separated parents also claimed that many parents were coerced into signing documents which stated that they waived their right to asylum.

What the Agreement States

After the families filed a lawsuit, the case has wended its way through federal court. The government reached an agreement with the separated families that may give 1,000 parents the right to reapply for asylum. Under the agreement, the deportation proceedings against the parents will be halted so they can have a chance to have second interviews with immigration officers. They will also be allowed to have attorneys represent them during their interviews and will be given time to prepare. Parents who are denied asylum will be allowed to stay in the U.S. until their children’s cases are decided.