New rules for asylum seekers go into effect this week
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New immigration rules go into effect this week for people seeking asylum in the United States. It's part of the overhaul of the US detention system announced by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano last summer.
Previously, many asylum seekers were put into detention - sometimes for many years - while their cases were pending. Mary Giovagnoli is the Director of the Immigration Policy Center and specializes in asylum law.
"For years advocate have been arguing that it is important to release as many of these folks as possible so that they can pursue their case in a way that allows them to participate in preparing their case and recognizes that many of these folks are people who are fleeing persecution and fleeing very horrible conditions in their own country. So keeping them detained and, unfortunately, sometimes keeping them detained with criminals, it further adds to the injury and harm that they've suffered."
Under the new guidelines, people who are determined to have credible fear of persecution or torture in their own country, and who don't pose flight risks or a danger to the community, will be granted parole from detention. The guidelines also mandate that asylum seekers be automatically considered for parole.
In announcing the new asylum guidelines, Assistant Secretary John Morton said they are committed to effective detention alternatives for non-violent, non-criminal detainees. Immigration experts like Giovagnoli welcome the changes, but say compliance is necessary if they're going to work.
"The difficulty is that frequently these kinds of policy changes only really work if they are embraced by the people who have to enforce them on the day to day front line and that requires a real commitment from the agency to really help educate and train people about the wisdom and the benefits of these kinds of changes, otherwise sometimes people are resentful or they don’t understand why this is a better way to deal with these complicated issues. So I applaud ICE for the progress that they’re making and I just really hope that they’re able to sustain it and make the changes stick."
The new asylum guidelines went into effect Tuesday.