Sunday, October 5, 2008

WIth Liberty and Justice...for SOME

The Fed's GAO office just released a statistical study of how political asylum applicants in the U.S. fare in their filings.  The results are simply more proof of what we already know...that the U.S. immigration is so hopelessly, pathetically, completely broken that the next President needs to make its reform one of his first initiatives in office...no matter HOW little mainstream Americans seem to care.  If we care about justice, we need to fix this and fix this NOW.

Before I point out the stats, I need to explain something to those of you who are not up to speed on the reality of political asylum applications.  You've probably heard the long-unresolved argument between those who distinguish between "political" refugees -- i.e., protected by asylum laws -- and "economic" refugees, who are not protected by such laws.  Nowhere are the political ramifications of this imprecise and arbitrary line-drawing more obvious than in the disparate treatment afforded to those who arrived on U.S. shores from Cuba, versus those who arrive from Haiti.  But the political refugee application process is messed up for a far more sinister reason: frivolous applications by those who have no business applying for asylum.

In the past decade, unscrupulous attorneys have taken to telling people from many comparatively peaceful countries and with absolutely no legitimate evidence of persecution that the asylum process was right for them...and, btw, it can get you an employment authorzation card.  KACHING!  I can't tell you how many of these applicants make up the total amount of asylum applications, but I've been approached by folks who have applied for asylum while hailing from countries ranging from the relatively  pacific Argentina to the definitely-not-asylum-worthy Canada (really).  So the system is clogged with ridiculous applications; invariably, they are denied and as the "victim" points an angry finger at the admittedly dishonest attorney who suggested asylum...

Reality check: in most cases, the "victim" is really a co-conspirator, trying to circumvent U.S. immigration law, plain and simple.  With no disrespect intended to anyone, it would appear to me that only the singularly stupid and profoundly clueless individual from a country like, say, Canada, could truly be a "victim" in these silly, baseless applications.  And in my experience, God tends to protect the profoundly clueless.

I'm not sure how these phony-baloney applications fit into the new GAO report, but I'll tell you this much: while current discretion parameters are obviously far too ample in defining legitimate, deserving asylum applicants, the entire process is tainted by a significant number of immigrants and the dishonest attorneys who are simply using the asylum application process the same way they filed false amnesty applications a decade and a half ago: a tool to buy time with no consideration to eligibility criteria whatsoever.

The main stats in the report:

-A petition filed in San Francisco is 12 times as likely to get approved as one filed in Atlanta.

-The greatest number of asylum petitions are submitted in New York...where COURTS ARE 420 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO APPROVE THE APPLICATION than other jurisdictions.

-Those represented by an attorney are twice as likely to get approved as those who are not.

-Those who have been detained by the USCIS are more likely to get approved.

-Male judges are 60% more likely to approve an asylum application than female judges.

Crazy stuff, huh?  Talk about a clear call for forum shopping...which is totally illegal!  I'll leave you with one final stat, quoted my the Miami Herald this morning:

"Records showed that in Miami, Judge Sandra Coleman denied 21.3 percent of the asylum applications she adjudicated between 2002 and 2007, while her colleague, Judge Mark Metcalf, denied 89.7."

Time to standardize asylum laws for uniform adjudication, Mr. President...whoever you are.



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