Immigration Blog

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Asylum Seekers and Detention – A Change in Policy

Dec 22, 2009 | arriving noncitizen, asylum, Immigration Detention

On December 16, 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) Assistant Secretary John Morton announced that ICE will generally release from detention arriving asylum seekers who have a credible fear of persecution or torture if certain criteria are met-part of ICE’s ongoing immigration detention reform efforts.

The revised guidelines, effective Jan. 4, 2010, will permit parole from detention–which temporarily authorizes noncitizens to enter the United States without being formally admitted or granted immigration status–of noncitizens arriving at U.S. ports of entry who establish their identities, pose neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community, have a credible fear of persecution or torture, and have no additional factors that weigh against their release.

The new guidelines also mandate that all such arriving noncitizens should automatically be considered for parole–a significant change from prior guidance that required noncitizens to request parole in writing.

U.S. immigration laws generally require noncitizens who arrive in the United States without valid entry documents to be immediately removed without further hearing; however, arriving noncitizens can pursue protection in the United States if they are first found by a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) asylum officer or an immigration judge to have a credible fear of persecution or torture in their home country.

Ruchi Thaker