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AILA Responds to Sessions’ Attack on Asylum Due Process

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) rejected the baseless attacks on America’s asylum system by Attorney General Jeff Sessions with the following statement:”Attorney General Sessions chose today to deride the American asylum system, the vulnerable populations who seek safety here, and the immigration attorneys who work tirelessly to ensure due process is afforded to everyone,” said Annaluisa Padilla, AILA President. “But what he failed to explain is that America’s asylum laws are based on international standards and are designed to support a multi-layered complex process that is intended to give a fair shot to those who are persecuted in their home countries. There is no ‘secret code’ to pass a credible fear interview – an asylum seeker has to describe their history and the traumatic events they experienced under intense questioning that can last hours so an asylum officer can determine whether they can have an even longer hearing before an immigration judge. Most asylum seekers come to our shores knowing nothing about the process and many do not even know that they can ask for protection. And it certainly doesn’t help matters when the government fails to provide adequate information about the process. For so many, it is the lack of information and guidance that leads to missed filing deadlines and missed court dates, not a desire to game the system.”

“It is preposterous to attribute the growing backlog of asylum applications to a baseless theory that people think it is the ‘easy way’ to immigrate,” remarked Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director. “The increase in asylum seekers is simply the result of more people, often mothers and children, choosing life over death and fleeing from the most violent areas around the world. They come to our borders with hope for a life free from assault, rape, and murder. Instead of championing the pillars of our judicial system and demanding fairness and due process for asylum seekers, the attorney general instead blames the victims and attacks the defense bar. With today’s statement, the attorney general’s destructive words and actions will put the lives of hundreds of thousands of exceptionally vulnerable people at risk. Given the humanitarian concerns involved, the tragedy here is that nowhere in the attorney general’s harangue against the system were any useful solutions that would actually make the system better.”

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