Asylum Seekers

April 25th, 2019

The following essay appeared in the Capital times yesterday. They must like me there.

“Attorney General William Barr recently ordered immigration judges to deny bail to asylum seekers while their deportation cases are being reviewed by the courts. This action is reprehensible for a variety of reasons.

First, on a purely humanitarian level, it is callous to incarcerate people who have fled to our country because they are in fear of their lives. I believe that this decision by the attorney general is designed to be cruel, in order to discourage other asylum seekers from even attempting to come to the United States for help. The message quite clearly is: “We don’t want you.”

Second, it is nearly impossible for an asylum seeker to effectively plead his or her case in an immigration court if that person is incarcerated. It is not enough that the asylum seeker show that he or she is fearful of returning to their native land. The asylum seeker needs to demonstrate that he or she is being persecuted specifically because of “race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or particular social group.” That is a high standard of proof. It is a standard that cannot be achieved if the asylum-seeker is in jail, and therefore has no access to legal counsel or necessary documents. The Trump administration is making certain that no asylum seeker can win their case in court. It is a perversion of due process.”

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