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9th Circuit rules asylum seekers have right to full appeal

immigrants in Florida and elsewhere who are initially denied asylum in the United States have the right to fully appeal that decision, according to a March 7 ruling by a California federal appeals court. Current federal law only allows migrants to appeal rejections on technical grounds.

In order to be granted asylum by the U.S., migrants are required to prove they have a "credible fear" of suffering persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political beliefs or political associations if they return to their home country. If they fail to prove they have a credible fear, the government will deny their asylum application, leaving them few grounds upon which to file an appeal. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit found that current law violates decades of court rulings recognizing the constitutional rights of non-citizens, including the right to file a full appeal.

Under the Trump administration, immigration judges have been rejecting increasing numbers of limited credible fear appeals. For example, 33 percent of credible fear appeals were successful in June 2017. By June 2018, the success rate of such appeals had fallen to approximately 15 percent. An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union said that the importance of the appeals court ruling "cannot be overstated".

U.S. immigration law is complicated and subject to change. Immigrants in the process of seeking the right to live in American might benefit from seeking the advice of an immigration attorney as soon as possible. The attorney could represent a client's interests during all immigration hearings and work to obtain a visa on his or her behalf. If a migrant has been detained, an attorney could work to obtain his or her release.

Source: USA Today, "Immigration asylum-seekers have a constitutional right to appeal, says court", Alan Gomez, March 7, 2019

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