Attorney General Jeff Sessions is attempting to rewrite the rules regarding who gets asylum in the United States. He says that doing so could reduce the number of immigration cases. There are currently 600,000 such cases waiting to be heard, which is triple the number of cases that were pending in 2009. Many of these involve women and children who have traveled from Central America to the United States.
Sessions also claims that his efforts could reduce the amount of fraud and abuse in the system. According to the attorney general, there is no doubt that some people try to take advantage of the immigration system. However, immigrant advocates claim that changing the system could result in victims of domestic violence or others legitimately seeking asylum being denied the protection that they need.
One attorney says that denying the rights of the most vulnerable in society should be considered a moral outrage. However, a representative from the Center for Immigration studies believes that asylum claims are the result of creative attorneys. The attorney general has moved to vacate one case that says asylum cases should not be rejected without a hearing. In another case, he calls into doubt whether victims of private crime should be granted asylum.
Individuals who are applying for asylum may want to consider working with an attorney. Legal counsel could be especially important for those who don't speak, read or write in English. An attorney can help an individual obtain or complete any necessary paperwork throughout the process. Legal counsel may also be available to request or represent an immigrant during an asylum hearing. Immigrants also have the right to be represented by an attorney during any other immigration hearing.