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The Positive Impact of Legal Representation in Asylum Cases

The Positive Impact of Legal Representation in Asylum Cases

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched a 30-day “surge” of arrests focused on mothers and children who fled from Central America and Mexico to seek refuge in the United States and who have been ordered removed by an immigration judge. The operation also covered minors who entered the country without a guardian and since turned 18 years of age. The purpose of this aggressive deporting was to deter future migration. The administration claim that “due process” was ensured but the fact is that many families that were arrested did not have any legal representation.

Understanding the peril of such families, a positive step was taken in San Francisco. On April 27, 2016, the Mayor of San Francisco approved $1.8 million for two years to fund the San Francisco Immigrant Legal Defense Collaborative (SFILDC), a unique partnership of 13 legal service providers brought together to represent children and families on the surge dockets before the San Francisco Immigration Court. This funding continues an initial grant by the City of San Francisco in 2014 to create and support the SFILDC through 2016.

Refugees from Central America and Mexico flee danger and come to the U.S. seeking lawful protection for their safety but they are forced to navigate the maze of immigration laws and removal proceedings. Statistics have shown that the odds of being allowed to remain in this country increase more than fourteen-fold if women and children have counsel to assist them in overcoming the many procedural hurdles and in presenting their stories.

Success of asylum claim depends on the credibility of the asylum seeker, the strength of the legal claim and ascertaining that no bars apply to the asylum seeker. To ensure that the asylum seeker complies with all the requirements, proper legal representation is must. Asylum claims are decided primarily on the evidence submitted and on the credibility of written and oral statements by the asylum seeker. If well organized detailed information is not provided the chances are that the asylum will likely be denied, even if asylum seeker has a genuine fear of persecution in the home country. Thus, a proper legal representation will change the fate of many asylum seekers from these countries, who fled to save life of themselves and their families.

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