According to the 1967 U.N. Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, an international agreement ratified by the United States in 1968, any immigrant may apply for asylum in any ratifying country if he claims to have suffered past persecution or claims to have a fear of future persecution in his home country. The asylum seeker is then entitled to a full and fair hearing of his asylum claim, where he must establish that he meets the definition of a “refugee” according to the protocol and permanent immigration status will be afforded.
This agreement was the UN’s response to the fact that millions of Jews attempting to flee Nazi-controlled Germany during the Holocaust were denied entry into the surrounding countries. The tragedy of this persecution spurred an international initiative to provide a safe-haven for victims fleeing persecution from governments that are either oppressive or that refuse to provide protection. In other words, asylum is a right, not a privilege. Unlike other humanitarian statuses granted by the government, the United States is bound by international law to uphold the rights of asylum seekers and grant status when a claim meets the legal requirements.
According to recent reports from the border between United States and Mexico, some border patrol agents have refused asylum seekers their right to a full and fair hearing. Instead of referring them to the proper asylum office, many seekers have been denied entry into the U.S. and told that they were not entitled to protection. This is illegal for two reasons: (1) this practice a violation of the United States’ international agreements, and (2) it is a violation of basic rights afforded to immigrants at the border.
Several immigrant advocacy groups have filed a joint complaint with DHS to dispute this practice, but the fact remains that many asylum seekers are currently being given false information and are wrongly being turned away. If you or a family member is seeking asylum at the United States border or any port of entry, know that asylum is a right, not a privilege, and you are entitled to a full hearing if you claim fear of returning to your home country. For more information on this subject or any other immigration needs, contact an attorney at Stilwell & Slatton Immigration.