A federal court of appeals ruling this month provides a peek at the U.S.’s generous asylum system that will have the effect of welcoming the impending instant mass migration from Central America. Some migrants among the caravan, due to arrive at the southern border within weeks, have told reporters they plan to capitalize on the years-long process to try to gain legal status. The court case involved Venezuelan Helegner Ramon Tijera Moreno. He deserted the army, came to America and sought asylum by declaring himself persecuted by Caracas‘ authoritarian socialist government. Two years later, he was before the 10th Circuit in Denver––a member of the second highest network of federal appeals courts below the Supreme Court. A three-judge panel on Oct. 22 denied Mr. Moreno’s petition. He cannot stay legally. The ruling provides a look at the long due process the U.S. provides each asylum seeker who merely has to step onto American soil and make the declaration to put off deportation. The court opinion also includes Mr. Moreno’s narrative on life inside a once-prosperous country now beset by economic turmoil, food shortages, crime, and a crackdown on dissent. It is easier to claim asylum than to ultimately prove a person deserves it. To ask for asylum via the online form No I-589, the person files inside the United States no matter how entry was gained––legally or illegally. As the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services states, “To obtain asylum through the affirmative asylum process you must be physically present in the United States. You may apply for asylum status regardless of how you arrived in the United States or your current immigration status.” Federal law sets a high adjudication bar. The law says an alien must demonstrate he is a refugee “who is unable or unwilling to return to ….. that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of … race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political option.” To start the process, Mr. Moreno in 2016 first received a “credible-fear” interview by customs officials who determined he lacked valid entry documents and planned to deport him. He stopped the process by then applying for asylum and protection under the Convention Against Torture, ensuring he could not be removed. His next stop was before an immigration judge who denied his petition and ordered him deported. His third step was the Board of Immigration Appeals. “The BIA agreed with the [judge’s] conclusion that Mr. Moreno failed to show he suffered past persecution,” the 10th circuit opinion said. America’s immigration courts are busy places. The Center for Immigration Studies reported in May that there were 697,777 pending cases before immigration judges or about 2,090 per judge. In 2017, about 170,000 cases were completed. Of those, 9,840 were asylum proceedings, such as Mr. Moreno‘s, of which one-third were denied. Thus, the odds are an appliance will win legal status.
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