One of the most sacred and precious of all human rights under international law is the right to apply for asylum in a safe country for people who are fleeing persecution in their own countries. History also shows that willingness to grant asylum is the hallmark of a democracy, while refusing to grant asylum or accept refugees is the hallmark of a dictatorship. The right to asylum is also at the very foundation of international human rights law.

This right is contained in Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 27 of the 1948 American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. See Sara Ramwy in The Hill (6/5/2018):

People fleeing persecution have the right to seek asylum

While the Trump administration is continuing to maintain the facade of an asylum system in America, the DOJ and DHS are in fact doing everything in their power to render the system inoperative.

This began when former AG Jeff Sessions, using the Immigration Court backlog as a pretext. imposed strict time limits for Immigration Court judges to decide cases, no matter how complex the factual and legal issues involved might be. By its very terms, this makes a mockery of justice.

Another mockery of justice under the asylum system involves the new policy of handing over the task of making the all-important "credible fear" determinations which, decide whether an applicant id entitled to a hearing at all, to untrained or poorly trained border control officers instead of well-trained asylum officers.

Most recently and outrageously, the Supreme Court has just upheld the latest Trump administration policy of forcing asylum applicants to apply for asylum first in admittedly dangerous countries such as Mexico or certain Central American countries before applying in the US.

What will be next? Refusing to accept asylum applications entirely, again using the Immigration court backlog as an excuse? Then America will truly be on the road that leads away from democracy and toward dictatorship.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law