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Big immigration victory in court for asylum seekers

A U.S. district judge has handed down a ruling regarding the application process for those seeking asylum in the United States from other countries of origin. Many people who eventually land in New Jersey to begin new lives start out by crossing borders to the United States in fear for their lives because of imminent dangers in their homelands. Some wind up in detention centers but are released to await their immigration hearings once officials are able to substantiate their claims that they are afraid to go back to where they came from because their lives are at risk.  

The problem that was brought to the court's attention was that the federal government, more specifically, the Department of Homeland Security, often fails to inform those released that there are deadlines attached to their asylum application processes. If they fail to meet the deadlines, they are ineligible for asylum. Issuing orders during a class-action lawsuit filed by immigrant advocates, the judge said the government needs to come up with a better system for processing asylum applications.  

As it stands, those awaiting immigration interviews for asylum often do not get court time until they have received notices to appear via postal mail. If their asylum application expiration date passes before that occurs, they are out of luck. The U.S. district court judge who heard the class-action case said the process needs to protect asylum seekers from such obstacles.  

U.S. immigration law is often quite difficult to understand. For one thing, it often changes; for another, states often enact their own regulations that may conflict with federal immigration laws. The judge's recent ruling will at least bring uniformity to the asylum application process. However, if a New Jersey immigrant needs assistance to seek asylum or for some other immigration problem, an experienced attorney can provide guidance.  

Source: The Washington Post, "US judge opens door for thousands to apply for asylum", Gene Johnson, March 29, 2018

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