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A Valuable Way To Help An Asylum Seeker Is To Make This Individual Aware Of The One-Year Filing Deadline For Asylum Applications

Posted on Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Do you know anyone who recently arrived in the United States as a refugee? If so, a valuable way to help this individual is to make him/her aware of the one-year filing deadline for asylum applications. The filing deadline requires an asylum seeker to establish by "clear and convincing" evidence that (s)he filed his/her asylum application within one year of arrival in the United States. If the asylum seeker misses the deadline, the asylum seeker can be subject to deportation, even if (s)he has a well-founded fear of persecution.
 
According to a new report by the Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center, Human Rights First, and Penn State Law Center for Immigrants' Rights, large numbers of refugees fleeing persecution are denied asylum in the United States because they missed the 12-month deadline imposed by Congress. The report, titled "One-Year Asylum Deadline and the BIA: No Protection, No Process," discusses the findings of a study that analyzed 3,472 Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") asylum cases decided during January of each year from 2005 to 2008. The study found that the filing deadline affects approximately one in five asylum applicants before the BIA. This figure under-represents the true impact of the filing deadline on asylum applicants, because many asylum applicants denied asylum by an immigration judge choose not to pursue a BIA appeal.
 
The report concluded that the BIA applies the deadline in an inflexible and overly technical manner and interprets the "clear and convincing" standard for establishing an applicant's date of arrival in the United States too rigidly. The report furthermore concluded that the BIA violates Congressional intent by failing to ensure that the deadline requirement is applied in a flexible and rational manner, thereby increasing the number of arbitrary denials. The report recommends that Congress repeal the deadline to ensure that refugees are not denied protection based on a mere technicality. Until that occurs, however, a valuable way to help an asylum seeker is make this individual aware of the filing deadline.

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