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NGOs & Academics Petition US Government for Rules to Reduce Detention of Asylum Seekers

March 16, 2010

via Tara Tildwell Cullen:

Non-governmental Organizations & Academics Petition U.S. Government; Seek Rules to Reduce Detention of Asylum Seekers

CHICAGO (March 16, 2010) – Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center joined today with 30 other national and international immigrant and human rights organizations, think tanks, and academics to petition the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) to issue regulations allowing the release of detained asylum seekers who pose no danger to the community and would face persecution if returned to their home countries.In a petition to DHS, the petitioners call on the agency  to create enforceable rules which establish a presumption that asylum seekers who pass a “credible fear” interview with an asylum officer and have no criminal history should be released from immigration detention. In a second petition to DOJ, the groups ask Attorney General Eric Holder to allow immigration judges to release asylum seekers who fulfill these requirements. The proposed regulations build on asylum parole guidelines released by DHS in December 2009.

“There is no reason for asylum seekers who have credible fear and are not dangers to their communities to be detained,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director, Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center. “We are requesting that immigration judges be given the authority to release asylum seekers from detention, allowing them better access to the lawyers, documentation, and information they need to have a meaningful day in court.”

While the December 2009 DHS asylum parole guidelines are a significant improvement over previous guidelines, the new guidelines continue to place an unfair burden on detained asylum seekers. For example, asylum seekers who have just arrived in the United States are required to present evidence of ties to the community as proof that they are not a flight risk.

“Justice is not served when the U.S. government respo nds to a person fleeing persecution in another land by locking her up,” McCarthy said. “The decision about whether an asylum seeker can have the opportunity to pursue her case outside of detention will be a significant factor in whether she is able to present a successful case. That decision should not fall solely on one immigration officer. It is incumbent upon DHS to create fair and enforceable guidelines that are upheld consistently by DHS officers across the country.”


Petition co-signers:

  • National Immigrant Justice Center
  • The American Friends Service Committee
  • American Gateways
  • Amnesty International
  • Asian American Justice Center
  • Center for Gender & Refugee Studies
  • The Center for Victims of Torture
  • The Constitution Project
  • Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project
  • Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center
  • Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
  • Immigration Equality
  • Jubilee Campaign USA
  • The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • Midwest Coalition for Human Rights
  • The Northwest Immigrant Rights’ Project
  • Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center
  • Physicians for Human Rights
  • The University of California-Davis Immigration Law Clinic
  • Professor Deborah Anker
  • Sabrineh Ardalan
  • Professor Regina Germain
  • Clinical Professor Denise Gilman
  • Clinical Professor Barbara Hines
  • Nancy Kelly
  • Eunice Lee
  • John Willshire-Carrera
  • Professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

About Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center:
Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center provides direct legal services to and advocates for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through policy reform, impact litigation, and public education.
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