Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you all enjoy this holiday season. Like most of you, I will be spending Christmas with family and friends. But come the New Year, I will be spending a week with complete strangers. Here’s my story:
I will be a volunteer lawyer on a week-long assignment in an immigrant detention center near the Texas-Mexico border. I will be helping asylum seekers advance their claims. I will help them present evidence that they have a credible or reasonable fear of returning home because their safety or lives are threatened there. The fear cannot be simply economic. It has to be a fear of persecution based on their ethnicity, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
It’s not an easy claim to win. As anyone who follows the news knows, our borders are now crowded with refugees, mostly from Central America. Some politicians have painted these refugees as evil. Although there may be a criminal here and there in the group, the vast majority of refugees consist of simple, poor, and desperate families seeking safe harbor. And unfortunately for them, most of their asylum claims will fall on deaf ears. Their “reasonable fear” of returning home will not fit within the narrow confines of asylum law.