Monday, January 08, 2007

So Who's a Terrorist Now?

The Washington Post article above uncovers the problems with the implementation of the REAL ID Act and the Patriot Act on U.S. Immigration law.
Individuals who were raped and gave water or shelter to their rapists who might also have been rebel child soldiers have been denied asylum under the REAL ID act for providing material support to "terrorists". Colombian asylum seekers have been particularly hard hit by the REAL ID act. Some individuals who have paid ransoms to rebel groups who have kidnapped loved ones are disqualified from asylum on the basis that they too provided "material support for terrorists". Hasn't this gone a little too far?

Pro Se Representation in Immigration court

The attached Washington Post article explores the problem of asylum seekers and immigrants who have to appear in front of an immigration judge pro se -without legal representation. In the immigration courts, unlike the criminal courts, asylum seekers or undocumented aliens are not privy to a court-appointed lawyer. Consequently, many who do not have the money for a lawyer or who are not picked up by a big law firm on a pro bono basis, find themselves in an adversarial hearing in front of an immigration judge and I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) lawyer.
One of the things that our course Human Rights-Human Wrongs does is provide help to asylum seekers who do not have legal representation. We cannot provide legal counsel to them or represent them in court, but we can help provide all the supporting documentation. We also work with a local not-for-profit organization, PIRC (Pennsylvania Immigrant Resource Center) which does provide legal representation for detained asylum seekers in York County Prison.