New Policy on Asylum Seekers

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last week announced a major change in its policy toward detention of immigrants claiming to be seeking asylum in the US.
According to the department’s Assistant Secretary John Morton, ICE will begin, effective January 4, 2010, to release from detention arriving asylum seekers who are determined by a USCIS asylum officer or immigration judge to have a “credible fear” of persecution or torture.
“Credible fear” is a term from section 235(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act that refers to a threshold determination that takes into account the credibility of the alien’s statements regarding his or her fear of persecution or torture and other pertinent facts to determine whether there is a significant possibility that the alien could establish eligibility for asylum or other forms of humanitarian immigration protection.
The announcement signals a significant change from the prior policy, which required aliens to affirmatively request parole in writing. According to ICE the new policy adds heightened quality assurance safeguards, including monthly reporting by ICE field offices and headquarters analysis of parole rates and decision-making, as well as a review of compliance rates for paroled aliens.
While the prior policy allowed ICE officers to grant parole based on a determination of the public interest, it did not define this concept. The new directive, however, explains that the public interest is served by paroling arriving aliens found to have a credible fear who establish their identities, pose neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community, and for whom no additional factors weigh against their release.
"ICE is committed to detention reform that ensures criminal and violent aliens remain in custody while establishing effective alternatives for non-violent, non-criminal detainees commensurate with the risk they present," said ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton. "These new parole procedures for asylum seekers will help ICE focus both on protecting against major threats to public safety and implementing common-sense detention policies."
As soon as the policy becomes effective, USCIS asylum officers will explain the new process to arriving aliens who have been determined to have a credible fear of persecution or torture, including providing information regarding appropriate documentation the aliens may provide to help establish their eligibility for release.
The parole out of detention doesn’t automatically mean that the asylum seeker will be granted protection, according to the guidelines.
ICE’s move comes two months after Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and Assistant Secretary Morton announced a variety of new immigration detention reform initiatives designed to enhance the security and efficiency of ICE’s nationwide detention system while prioritizing the health and safety of detainees.
One of the priority areas noted by Secretary Napolitano and Assistant Secretary Morton at that time was to ensure “better management of special populations and improved program management and handling of “non-criminal, non-violent populations,” a category which was said to include newly arriving asylum seekers.

(Visited 3 times, 1 visits today)

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

Leave a Reply