This guide, updated April 2019, supports attorneys, law students, paralegals and other advocates working to prevent the deportation of asylum-seeking families who have recently arrived in the United States. Please note that since April 2019, laws and policies affecting asylum seekers have continued to change rapidly, and advocates should take care to review the latest legal standards.
The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) prepared “Vindicating the Rights of Asylum Seekers at the Border and Beyond: A Guide to Representing Asylum Seekers in Expedited Removal and Reinstatement of Removal Proceedings” after assisting hundreds of asylum seeking women and children. While the guide is informed by our experience in the family detention context, the information is relevant to any asylum seeker in expedited removal or reinstatement of removal proceedings.
The guide includes tips for credible and reasonable fear interviews (CFIs/RFIs), immigration judge (IJ) review of negative interview results, requests for re-interview or reconsideration (RFRs), and more. We hope this guide will be used by advocates working with asylum seekers at the border and beyond.
Please note: This guide was published in early June 2018 and updated in mid-April 2019. During this time period, laws and policies affecting asylum seekers have been changing rapidly. Advocates assisting asylum seekers in expedited removal proceedings should take care to review the latest legal standards. For example:
- Since mid-April 2019, DHS has made several changes to the CFI process. On April 30, 2019, USCIS revised the Credible Fear Interview Lesson Plan, making it harder to receive a positive determination – see lawsuit, Kiakombua v. McAleenan. On July 26, 2019, USCIS issued guidance about including internal relocation at the CFI stage. There are also indications that CBP officers, rather than asylum officers, will be conducing some CFIs and that notice for CFIs will be reduced to 24 hours.
- On July 2, 2019, advocates won a preliminary injunction in Padilla v. ICE, preserving the right to bond hearings for asylum seekers.
- On July 16, 2019, DHS and DOJ issued a joint Interim Final Rule that would strip asylum eligibility from those who traveled through a third country on their way to the Mexico-U.S. border. See DOJ Guidelines, CLINIC FAQs, and lawsuit, East Bay v. Barr. Then, on July 26, 2019, President Trump signed an agreement with Guatemala, which, if successfully implemented, would make asylum seekers ineligible for protection in the U.S. if they had traveled through Guatemala without applying for asylum there.
- On July 23, 2019, DHS announced plans to expand expedited removal to be nationwide. See lawsuit, Make the Road New York v. McAleenan, and AILA Practice Alert.
- On July 29, 2019, the Attorney General decided Matter of L-E-A-, limiting asylum claims based on family membership. See CLINIC Practice Pointer.
- On August 2, 2019, advocates won summary judgment in O.A. v. Trump, with the court striking down the administration’s attempt to bar asylum for individuals who crossed the Mexico-U.S. between ports of entry.
- The administration has continued to expand the “Remain in Mexico” program, forcing tens of thousands of asylum seekers to await hearings in Mexico. See lawsuit, Innovation Law Lab v. McAleenan.