A group of refugees from the Caribbean, as well as Central and South America has filed a class action lawsuit against the United States for allegedly denying asylum-seekers due process, for intentionally failing to inform them of the deadline for filing the necessary paperwork for asylum, and for placing roadblocks to stifle the immigration process.
After being caught at the border, the four plaintiffs were released into the United States and allowed to apply for asylum. However, they did not receive any instructions from immigration agents to file for asylum within the allowable grace period of 1 year after entering the country, nor did they present a feasible way to meet the deadline.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs claim that their ability to pursue asylum was stifled by a government process that is hardly fair, but rather goes against the basic tenets of due process, that is, providing notice and the opportunity to be heard.
Concely del Carmen Mendez Rojas and her fellow plaintiffs allege that the Department of Homeland Security and effectively violated provisions of the Constitution, as well as the:
- Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952
- Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996
The 1996 law enacted during the Clinton administration was designed to offer a faster process for removing undocumented immigrants apprehended within 100 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, and gives border agents the authority to detain and remove them without formal processing.
The law, however, offers an exemption for immigrants whose lives are in clear and present danger in their home countries, and thus cannot be deported. These undocumented immigrants are to be recommended to the DPS, whose agents will conduct a “credible fear interview” to ascertain the validity of their claims and eligibility for asylum.
At this point, these immigrants are protected from the expedited removal process and placed under standard deportation proceedings. They are also entitled to due process before an immigration judge (IJ) and can apply for asylum and other forms of deportation protection, as well as appeal the IJ’s rulings with the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Court of Appeals in their designated district.
The plaintiffs contend that immigration officials did not provide sufficient information on how to file for asylum, with many refugees believing they had effectively applied for asylum through the interviews with Homeland Security.
The lead plaintiffs entered the United States to escape gang and drug-related violence in their home countries.
Cases like this highlight the importance of seeking legal representation for anything related to immigration law. If you or anyone you know is facing a similar situation, sit down for a consultation with the Lyttle Law Firm. Call us today at (512) 215.5225.