When I was 8 my sister’s best friend was deported to El Salvador after her asylum case was denied, years later, the US government admitted that they had actively discriminated against cases like hers for political reasons and an new law called NACARA was created to right those wrongs. When I found I she’d been deported, I committed myself to working for people like her; victims of heinous abuses, uprooted from their homes and looking for shelter. Now the US government is denying claims of persecution in Mexico.
Recent reports have shown a marked uptick in the number of asylum claims from Mexicans surrendering themselves at the Port of Entry and claiming a fear of return. Working in San Diego, I can certainly concur that my practice has seen an increased number of calls from people who showed up at the border to claim asylum and were moderately well versed in the process. Some attorneys referred to this as being “coached”. The surge of applicants along with the strategy of the Dream 9 to claim asylum has led to an internal debate on the validity of these claims and whether attorneys should even be taking these cases given the current law on asylum.
Bollix to them I say!
At a hearing I once nearly waived asylum for a young woman from Mexico who had never been harmed and only had a generalized fear of violence. The Judge stopped me saying that social group law on asylum is constantly changing so he was going to include an asylum claim for her, just in case. Now, I don’t take asylum cases where there is only a generalized fear of harm, but where someone has actually been targeted for whatever reason if they want to go forward against all odds and they are already in proceedings or surrendered at the border I advise them it’ll be a long shot but at the end of the day it’s their case, their call, and, most importantly, it is their life at risk.
INS wasn’t granting asylum cases from El Salvador or Guatemala in the 80s and 90s and look where that led: a law suit with those immigrants winning the creation of NACARA. How can attorneys say that the Dream 9 had no claim for asylum even without knowing their cases and just assuming that if the person is from Mexico they aren’t going to be granted and that therefore they don’t have a valid claim and shouldn’t even try? Should Rodi Alvarado not have tried for asylum? Or Fauziya Kasinga? The difference between private attorneys and the mindless bureaucrats we argue against is that we are capable of seeing what the law could be and should be. Be creative people!
Mexico is a dangerous, scary place to live for many. Government involvement or ineptitude in this violence is the norm rather than the exception, Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State said that is was at risk of becoming a Narco-State. Where the Narco traffickers have a mentality of your either with us or against us that “us” is a social group. So here’s my rallying cry; don’t be afraid to push the envelope on asylum law, it’s dynamic and we are the people charged with keeping it that way, but also here’s my plea, don’t publicly impugn your colleagues for taking these types of cases because you may just have the next Rodi Alvarado sitting in your office.