Sunday, October 16, 2011

Speech and Representation: Jamaican case

We may need to seriously reevaluate how we assess asylum claims. Why is it that there seems to be few provisions made to accommodate asylum cases? And those that are made are not nearly enough or as frequent considering the case load. Mr. Cotterel's case is a perfect example. He clearly has reason to fear being returned to Jamaica, and yet, an asylum grant is not guaranteed. It seems like our system is working against him.
First, there is the issue of communication. As if it isn't already hard to build a strong asylum application, imagine trying to do it with, not only a language barrier, but a speech impediment as well. It also seems as if he is being penalized for missing a court date that occurred while he was incarcerated in York. Shouldn't it have been York's responsibility to make sure he was present for that appearance? And why did it take so long for him to gain legal representation. At least now he has some hope. If Mr. Shagin had not taken on his case, would he even have thought to appeal the IJ's decision?
There is a great need of legal support for immigration cases. Until the supply meets the demand we will continue to see cases, similar to Mr. Cotterel's, slip through the cracks and have deserving people denied much needed refuge.

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