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NIYA Statement Re: "Asylum Fraud: Abusing America's Compassion?"

NIYA Statement Re: "Asylum Fraud: Abusing America's Compassion?"

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The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security has called a hearing on “Asylum Fraud: Abusing America’s Compassion?’ for Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 10AM EST.

This statement was prepared for the public record. The NIYA agrees that there is asylum fraud, on the part of the Obama administration, and its agents. We worry over several, very severe, violations to those seeking asylum.
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security has called a hearing on “Asylum Fraud: Abusing America’s Compassion?’ for Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 10AM EST.

This statement was prepared for the public record. The NIYA agrees that there is asylum fraud, on the part of the Obama administration, and its agents. We worry over several, very severe, violations to those seeking asylum.

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Published by: The National Immigrant Youth Alliance on Feb 10, 2014
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Re: Statement for the Record:
“Asylum Fraud: Abusing America’s Compassion?”
 in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security From: National Immigrant Youth Alliance To: House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Date: February 10, 2014
 The National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) has worked with undocumented immigrant youth since 2010. For the past two years, our work has expanded to include advocacy with and for recent immigrants, included asylum seekers and refugees. We work with individuals from across the world that come to the United States seeking not only a better life, but simply to survive. They are fleeing violence and persecution and see the United States as a safe haven. We have a process in which these vulnerable individuals are supposed to have their basic rights respected and their cases reviewed. However, what we see all too often is abuses in this process and by those who are supposed to ensure safety and due process for asylum seekers who present themselves at our borders and ask for refuge. We do believe the system is in need of reforms and immediate attention. No human being should ever be treated the way we have seen asylum seekers treated at our ports of entry. So we are glad to have this opportunity to speak about asylum abuses, and work together to create a stronger process that provides better protections for those seeking a safe home.
Findings Worthy of Investigation
“Mexicans Can’t Get Asylum”
 
Any immigrant subject to expedited removal proceedings who expresses an intention to apply to asylum, a fear of persecution or torture, or a fear of returning to his or her home country must be given a credible fear of persecution or torture interview by an Asylum Officer before being removed. However, immigrants who present themselves at US Ports of Entry and are subject to expedited removal, and thereafter express a fear of returning to their home countries are being wrong denied credible fear interviews. In the summer of 2009, Martin Reyes-Valles (A#089-540-000) approached the El Paso Port of Entry. Months before, Martin had witnessed an execution at the hands of organized crime in his home town of Juarez. Members of the cartel began to threaten Martin, saying they would kill him and his family. Soon
thereafter, in the middle of the night, the family’s home was burned to the ground. Martin approached the Port of Entry seeking refuge, only to be turned away by an agent; he was told “there is no asylum for Mexicans.”
After this incident, Martin had no choice but to attempt to illegally enter the United States; he was caught, and only then given a credible fear interview. Martin received a positive interview, however is now detained at the El Paso Detention Center.
 
2 On April 13, 2012, Rosa Hilda Carrera-Moreno, (A#205-483-791) left the United States, where she had
lived for over 20 years, for Chihuahua City, Mexico. Rosa’s two sons, both Dreamers, had just been
murdered; "I found blood and pieces of my son's skull at the crime scene." Once back in Mexico, Rosa attempted to investigate the murder of her kids. T
hat’s when the threats against h
er life began. Rosa fled Mexico out of fear and turned herself in at the U.S. Port of Entry seeking refuge. However,
she was
told “Mexicans can’t get asylum.”
Hearing this, and knowing she would be killed in Mexico, she had no choice but to enter illegally. Rosa was caught by U.S. Border Patrol, prosecuted by the Department of Justice for illegal entry, and spent several months in Federal Prison. After her prison sentence, Rosa was transferred to the El Paso Detention Center, where she finally received a fear interview. She passed her interview, but, because of her felony illegal entry conviction, she was denied parole from detention. Rosa has two U.S. citizen children, ages 8 and 16, awaiting her return.
As a result of the asylum abuse carried out by Port of
Entry agents, Rosa’s long term detention has resulted in nearly $10
0,000 in wasted tax payer money.
 
Prolonged Detention of Asylum Seekers:
Asylum seekers are detained in direct violation of Directive No.: 11002.1 by John Morton, the former director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This directive went into effect January 4, 2010, however many agents refuse to follow it and asylum seekers remain in prolonged detention. It reads in part:
“…[W]hen an arriving alien found to have credible fear establishes to the satisfaction of
DRO his or her identity and that he or she presents neither a flight risk nor danger to the community, DRO should, absent additional factors, parole the alien on the basis that his
or her continued detention is not in the public interest.” 
 During a four-month internal investigation of the El Paso Detention Center
September of 2013 through January of 2014
 our organizers uncovered over 100 instances of individuals being denied parole. All of these immigrants are seeking asylum, and have passed either their credible or reasonable fear interviews. In addition, all of the over 100 immigrants had also provided DRO and ICE officials with sponsorship documents. To this day many of the immigrants we first interviewed months ago, remain detained. We have found that this abuse of asylum seekers is not limited to the El Paso facility, we have received reports from immigrants around the nation, from San Francisco to Louisiana, citing concerns over long-term detention of parole eligible immigrants. The New York Times recently reported on a group of five men who fled Sri Lanka after civil war devastated their homes and made their lives there very dangerous. These men, despite passing credible fear interviews and cooperating with FBI interviews regarding human smuggling, have been detained since late 2010, over 3 years. Research and news reports show that if they are deported they are likely to be tortured and killed. However, the Judge who hears asylum cases where they are detained in South
 
3 Florida, Judge Rex Ford, denies 93.4% of asylum claims, including the cases of these men. Disparate statistics in the asylum grant rates of Immigration Judges mean that if these men had had their cases heard by another judge they likely would have been granted asylum 3 years ago. However, a lack of oversight and accountability has left them imprisoned and likely to be deported. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/03/us/tamils-smuggling-journey-to-us-leads-to-longer-ordeal-3-years-of-detention.html?_r=2 
Inconsistency of Fear Interviews:
Rosy Griselda Rojas-Gallego (A#205-930-278) presented herself at the Nogales, Arizona U.S. Port of Entry on September 22
nd
, 2013. On September 30
th
, 2013, along with 30 other immigrants, Rosy’s
cousin, Ana Maria Dominguez-Rojas (A#206-167-328) did the same at the Laredo, Texas U.S. Port of Entry. Both cousins, having lived together in Mexico, were seeking refuge here in the U.S. Ana received a positive credible fear interview in October and was released in early November of 2013. However, Rosy remains detained at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. Both cousins lived together in Mexico and they both fled for the same reasons. They are indigenous and have faced persecution and violence at school and at home for being indigenous. Yet, they have been given drastically different treatment under the asylum process of this country. Leobardo Medrano (A#206-202-014) fled Mexico and came to the United States in November 2013 with his friend Jonathan. A car they were driving was shot at by cartel members after another friend was murdered by the cartel and they were warned not to be seen in the neighborhood again. Despite the fact that Leobardo and Jonathan came to the United States together fleeing the same violence, Jonathan was denied credible fear and deported while Leobardo passed the interview and remained detained for months. In December, the New York Times reported on this as a widespread problem. Entire families present themselves together at the Port of Entry and explain their fears to Asylum Officers. However, some are allowed to remain temporarily to pursue asylum claims while other family members are immediately deported. http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/12/29/world/americas/path-to-asylum-for-mexicans-bearing-letter.html?from=homepage 
Extreme Delay in Asylum Seekers Receiving Interviews:
Citing the extreme bias in the granting of Mexican asylum cases, on July 22
nd
, 2013 nine immigrants publically presented themselves at the Nogales, Arizona U.S. Port of Entry. The immigrants, all citing fears of living in Mexico, requested asylum in the U.S. The nine were transferred to the Eloy Detention Center and were told that their initial credible fear hearing would not take place until 7-months later, in February of 2014. While the nine were detained, it came to our attention that numerous other immigrants at the same facility have been waiting for extended periods of time (6 to 10 months) for their initial fear interviews. This too is not unique to this facility, Werner Arreaga (A# 079-793-292) was transferred to a Louisiana detention center in February of 2013 and he did not receive his reasonable fear interview until 4-months later, on June 28
th
, 2013. The nine immigrants who presented themselves on July 22
nd
 were released

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