Good News for Asylum Seekers

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As we prepare for coming changes to immigration policies under President Trump, who built a campaign on promises of building a wall, taking away work permits of thousands of young people, and creating tougher immigration enforcement, we know we have a lot of work ahead of us. But with your support, we will continue to represent community members facing deportation, and we will continue to challenge and change unjust immigration policies and practices, just as we have for the last 33 years.

Recently, we were thrilled to receive good news on one of the cases we are pursuing with our partners. This lawsuit is challenging unjust policies by the federal government which effectively prevent thousands of asylum-seekers from being able to pursue protection in our country.

It started with one of our plaintiffs, Ms. Lopez.

When Ms. Lopez and her two children arrived at the Texas border in February of 2014, she told the border patrol they were afraid to return to their home country of Guatemala. Recognizing her intention to seek asylum, the government gave her a notice to appear in immigration court at a future date and allowed her to live with relatives as she awaited her day in court.

What the government didn’t tell Ms. Lopez was that asylum seekers face a deadline: they are required to submit their asylum applications within one year of arriving in the U.S.

Ms. Lopez wasn’t scheduled for an immigration court hearing until more than a year and a half later. Over the course of those 18 months, she checked in with the government four separate times, but at no point did anyone inform her of the one-year deadline. She didn’t find out about it until she consulted an immigration attorney in December of 2015, after she and her children had had their first court hearing – and almost two years after their arrival.

Ms. Lopez and her children then submitted an application for asylum, but because they applied after the one-year deadline, it remains to be seen whether the government will even consider her application.

Stories like Ms. Lopez’s are far too common, and are why NWIRP and several partners filed a lawsuit on behalf of asylum seekers who were not informed of the one-year deadline at the time of their arrival in the United States. Our lawsuit seeks a court-mandated notice of the deadline for all asylum seekers as well as a mechanism that will ensure they will have the opportunity to file their asylum applications on time.

And just last week, we received some very good news. A federal court has granted nationwide class-action status to our case as it moves forward, meaning that thousands of asylum seekers across the country may finally have a real opportunity to apply for that pivotal form of protection and stay safely in the U.S.

We are able to challenge injustices like this one and continue our work representing immigrants in our community because of the generous support of people like you.

Thank you for standing with us and for your shared commitment to justice.