Wednesday, December 07, 2011

How do we weed out the liars from genuine asylum seekers?

As the semester has come to an end, I can't help but evaluate our asylum system as a whole. With a better understanding of the law and reading so many cases, I think I can finally make some comments. I think we all agree that the system needs work. An article published a few months ago in the New York Times raised the same question: How can the asylum system be fixed?  This article was open for a discussion. It mainly stated that New York receives the highest number of cases than any other city in the US. In 2010, 76% of such cases were granted of some kind of relief, compared to 51% nationwide. Even though fraud is a big issue in asylum cases, judges still "err on the side of caution, believing that the approval of fraudulent claim has fewer dire consequences than denying a real one." A commenter pointed out that there is usually one judicial law clerk to every four judges; so when courts receives 1,200 cases, you have to be quick and you can't necessarily delve into everyone's cases-which is something everyone deserves. She suggested that a structural reform is key to making changes in the asylum system and that we should have an independent court, as opposed to courts within the Department of Justice. Though this is a plausible way for reformation, many people feel otherwise. In fact, some of the commenters simply wants an end to asylees and refugees in the US. 

Their argument is that Americans still have to pay taxes so the "liars" can receive their benefits. They do not want to be taxed on their hard-earned dollars for people who lied to get relief. Also, the US has its fair share of poverty as well (obviously-not as extreme as the slums of India or many African nations. Below are two comments that stood out to me: 

"Stop asylum isn't fixing the problem in the home country, but making immigration lawyers rich and their clients liars. We can't afford it. Those people are immediately paid SSI and then get FREE medical insurance ( medicaid or medicare) while many taxpayers footing THEIR BILL have neither. Now that's real abuse..." 

"Zero - allow no more into the US -- We cannot take care of our own, why should we be taking care of foreigners who mostly likely lie to get here. We have how many homeless veterans? This is dispictable!! Stop bringing in asylum seekers/refugees from other countries. WE CANNOT AFFORD THEM IN LIEU OF AMERICANS. We are being flooded as a nation by refugees from Burma -- STOP THIS MADNESS. If these people cannot fight for their countries, rest assured they would be the first to flee America if they had to fight for the USA. No more asylum, no more refugees!" 

I think these are way too harsh and these people obviously do not know much about the ayslum process. I actually read an article a while back on people's perceptions on the number of asylum seekers and refugees in Australia but the actual numbers were much lower. But, to be honest, I don't really know where I stand on this issue. On one hand, I think that the US has a moral responsibility of helping those in need and I'm glad that the US and similar countries are safe havens for many individuals across the globe but at the same time, I don't really feel comfortable granting asylum to liars. I don't trust almost anyone and I am especially critical of those seeking ayslum, even the one that my classmates and I worked. I think that even if we do have a reformation in the court system, it still doesn't resolve the issue of weeding out the genuine asylum seekers from fraudulent ones. How do we even guarantee this? The more fraudulent cases granted will continue to misrepresent asylum seekers to the general public and create more hostility to them in the US.    

What do you think? 

1 comment:

SWATTY said...

I think this is also an issue that i struggled with throughout the semester. I reflect back on the first day of class when we were asked who should be let in, why and when and where do we (U.S.) draw the line? Before actually working with an asylum seeker I was very skeptical however his testimony has altered my perception of asylum as a whole. I do not think that the US should allow liars into the US but there are some great actors out there so how do we distinguish the difference? My client is indeed genuine and I appreciate that so I haven't be in the place to say. I think it is important to have Immigrations Judges and Asylum Officers that are skilled to be able to weed out the liars from the genuine asylum seekers.