ACLU lawsuit takes action on asylum claims

People seeking political asylum must meet certain criteria. In October, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that it was introducing a new policy that would fast-track the review of requests for asylum. One of the major features of the new procedure would be the reduction of the review period to three days. If the person was found lacking in qualifications for asylum status, the person would be sent back to the country from which they were emigrating. On December 7, 2019, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., challenging the new procedures, specifically the limited waiting period.

According to the ACLU’s complaint, the new procedures “systematically undermine the procedural safeguards guaranteed to those seeking asylum by rocketing asylum seekers through the credible fear process with no access to counsel.” Persons seeking asylum are entitled to obtain the advice of counsel, but the ACLU is claiming that the three-day review period effectively eliminates this right because the period is too brief.

Immigration policies are being challenged in federal courts on a number of different grounds. For example, several advocacy groups asked a federal judge to enjoin a new federal policy that sends asylum seekers to Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador if they made no effort to seek asylum on their way to the United States. Another case is pending before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that could strike down another policy that makes asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases are processed in this country.