This includes a welcome and introduction given before this section of our The Asylum Process: Interdisciplinary Responses to Multifaceted Challenges full day training on August 16, 2023.
The many parameters, details, and processes of asylum law can be confusing and overwhelming for asylum seekers. While focusing on the people going through these processes, in these sessions our presenters examine the effect of current asylum law and the way that things are changing on the individuals going through it. During this session, John Wilkinson leads an overview of the affirmative asylum process, the elements of asylum, the interactions a client may have with the asylum officer, possible decisions, and the part that clinicians might play. Next Dominique Quevedo takes us through some of the updates currently going on that affect our clients; what was intended and how it’s playing out on the ground. Including the Asylum Ban, CBP One/Border Processing & Asylum, ICE Enforcement Priorities, Prosecutorial Discretion & impact on asylum seekers, Immigration Court backlog, Asylum Office backlog, Processing Times and Current Grant Rates.
Questions responded to in chat, not during the training:
Question: *Follow up on the psychological evaluation question: If a client (already granted asylum) has been waiting for years for their family to be granted “follow-to-join”, would a clinician’s letter of the asylee’s mental health being negatively impacted by not having their family with them help get their family’s application sped up?
Answer from John Wilkinson: Always worth a try. Not always successful but can’t hurt.
Answer from Dominique Quevedo: I also think it is worth a try. Certain Consulates have protocols to attempt to expedite the process.
Question: Is there a limit of granted asylum cases per year?
Answer from John Wilkinson: No
Question: Are medical evaluations and additional affidavits provided at the initial court appearance? What does the timeline for submitting these documents typically look like?
Answer from John Wilkinson: Yes, they can be provided at the initial court appearance with a Legal Representative. (If asylum seeker appears without an attorney, the Immigration Judge will usually adjourn for another Master Calendar to allow time to seek counsel. Otherwise, Immigration will advise asylum seeker and legal rep how soon documentation must be submitted. Asylum Offices have different rules; NJ asylum office accepts documentation even when provided on the date of the interview. NY Asylum Office asks for everything within 7-10 days before the interview. If documentation is submitted “late” the legal rep can attempt to justify.
Question: Thank you for addressing this topic. We often get requests from affirmative applicants for expedite letters from a physician, detailing the psychological effects of the delay in their case. What are your thoughts on this type of letter? Can it be effective?
Answer from John Wilkinson: I mostly work on fast-track cases, including people who are detained and newly-arrived asylum seekers. Therefore, my personal experience on this is very limited. I would say that, if the request is for the purpose of getting an interview or advancing a court date, these letters are helpful but not, themselves, outcome determinative.
If the delay is post-interview and the client is waiting on a decision, I would really think twice before asking for a quick decision. Denials are easy and approvals are tough, so my fear is that quicker means more likely to deny. That’s my own opinion.
Generally, I would assume that expedite requests would require circumstances that materially distinguish the client from all the other people waiting in the backlog. Therefore, if the reason centers on the psychological effect on the client themselves, you’d be responsible for demonstrating something significantly more serious than the stress and frustration that most people would be expected to suffer given the situation.