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9th Circuit rules on asylum seekers' right to appeal

Immigrants who have come to Texas seeking asylum might eventually be able to appeal a rejection under a new ruling although it will only take immediate effect in states under the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit. The initial test for asylum seekers is establishing a "credible fear" of returning to the home country. This is decided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officers.

Under U.S. law, asylum seekers can only appeal the decision on technical grounds. However, on March 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that this violates the constitutional protections afforded to non-citizens in many other cases and that migrants should have the right to appeal before an immigration judge. The ruling allows asylum seekers in Oregon, Nevada, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Hawaii, Alaska, California, and Arizona to immediately appeal a rejection.

Normally, asylum seekers who fail the test for "credible fear" are quickly removed from the country. The only grounds allowable for appeal deal with whether the person is a citizen, whether expedited removal was ordered and whether the person is exempt from expedited removal. Immigration judges have been rejecting appeals at a high rate, and under the law as it has traditionally been applied, they are not allowed to consider whether the person has a credible fear.

While the 9th Circuit ruling may not extend to Texas, people who are seeking asylum or facing deportation might want to consult an attorney to understand their options. People who are seeking to stay in the country through other means may also want to work with an attorney. The complexity and fast-changing nature of U.S. immigration law means it can be easy to make errors or misunderstand rules that can delay an application for a visa or other form of residency permission.

Source: USA Today, "Immigration asylum-seekers have a constitutional right to appeal, says court", Alan Gomez, March 7, 2019

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