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How one representative's bill would make it harder to secure asylum

As we've discussed extensively on our blog, last year saw an unprecedented number of migrants from Central America -- nearly 52,000 families and 52,000 unaccompanied minors -- seek sanctuary here in the U.S. from violence and threats of persecution in their home countries.

As we also discussed, many of these people ultimately went on to be granted asylum, something that did not sit well with some lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

In fact, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has recently introduced legislation aimed at fixing what he believes is a porous system that is prone to exploitation by asylum seekers.

Specifically, his Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act would look to accomplish two objectives:

  • Reduce the number of baseless asylum claims by strengthening the credible fear standard.
  • Limit the ability of executive branch officials to grant automatic release to detainees by strengthening the standard for release under parole authority.

For those unfamiliar with the asylum process, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services indicates that a person seeking this protective status must be able to demonstrate that they cannot return to their native country because they have a "credible fear of persecution or torture."

For the moment, no votes are planned for Chaffetz's legislation, which was one of several bills examined in Wednesday's meeting of the Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.

However, immigrant advocates are already speaking out against it, arguing that it not only goes against the letter and spirit of U.S. law, which says people are to be given protection from persecution, but that it would result in immigrant families being unfairly detained for significantly longer periods.

Stay tuned for updates ...

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you would like to learn more about the process of being granted asylum or the adjustment of status after a grant of asylum.

Source: McClatchy DC, "Congress considers toughening standards on immigrants’ asylum claims," Franco Ordonez, Feb. 11, 2015

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