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Expert: Asylum More Difficult to Obtain than Ever

November 27, 2019 (1 min read)

Elliot Spagat, Associated Press, Nov. 27, 2019

"The U.S. is increasingly aligning itself with wealthy countries in Europe and elsewhere to make asylum a more distant prospect.  On Thursday, American authorities sent a Honduran man from El Paso, Texas, to Guatemala. It marked the first time the U.S. government directed an asylum-seeker back to that country under the new policy, which gave him an option to file a claim there. He decided against filing a claim and returned to Honduras, according to Guatemala's foreign ministry.  Asylum was once almost an afterthought, until an unprecedented surge of migrants made the United States the world's top destination in 2017, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. The U.S. held its leading position last year, followed by Peru, Germany, France and Turkey.  Nearly half of the roughly 1 million cases in backlogged U.S. immigration courts are asylum claims, with most from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. ... Even before the ban, asylum was difficult to get in the U.S. Judges granted only 21% of cases, or 13,248 out of 62,382, in the 2018 fiscal year. Nkeze can also ask for two variations of asylum, but they are even harder to obtain, with 3% succeeding under "withholding of removal" law and only 2% under the U.N. Convention Against Torture.  "They essentially want you to bring a note from your torturer before they are willing to let you stay in the U.S," said Stephen Yale-Loehr, professor of immigration law practice at Cornell University."