The current asylum procedure works like this: a person seeking asylum in the United States must first present themselves to an asylum officer. If the asylum seeker can prove that they have a reasonable fear of being subjected to torture or persecution if forced to go back to their country of origin, the officer grants the seeker a hearing before an immigration judge, who decides whether or not to grant asylum.
But that might soon change. The current presidential administration has proposed a rule change that would make it harder to receive an asylum hearing before an immigration judge. It would give judges the power to throw out an asylum claimant’s right to a hearing if they feel the claim is flawed in some way. Instead, the applicant would go through a faster “streamlined” process without a hearing.
The importance of the asylum hearing
The hearing is important. Besides the chance to have their day in court, it gives applicants the opportunity to add details to their case that the judge may not otherwise learn about. Without these details, immigration judges may be more likely to deny asylum to those who need it and send them back to dangerous situations in their home countries. One immigration attorney predicted that survivors of domestic violence and targets of criminal gangs would especially be vulnerable to denied asylum.
Immigration law is changing
The proposal is not yet the law. But if it becomes law, it would be more important than ever for people seeking refuge in this country to work with an experienced immigration attorney. Having a lawyer who can advise you on the current state of the law and be a strong advocate for you can greatly improve your chances of being granted asylum in the U.S.