A Response to Attorney General Sessions Remarks on Asylum

Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered remarks yesterday on the need to fix America’s immigration system. At CAIR Coalition we work within that system every day. We agree that the system needs to be improved; however we disagree with AG Sessions’ characterizations of the problems and proposed solutions.

In his remarks, AG Sessions focused on the asylum system and characterized it as a system that is abused by people without meritorious asylum claims who merely want to stay in the United States. He discussed credible fear interviews – these are often the first step to claiming asylum; a gatekeeping interview conducted when a person first arrives in the United States.

AG Sessions highlighted the fact that half of the individuals who first pass a credible fear interview never then file an asylum application, and states that this suggests these individuals’ “claim of fear was simply a rules to enter the country illegally.” We strongly disagree with this sentiment. 

In the American immigration system there a crisis of legal representation. That is the reason for asylum applications not being filed; not a lack of merit. We meet with individuals on a weekly basis who have passed a credible fear interview and have not gone on to apply for asylum. The reason why often has nothing to do with the strength of their asylum application, but is rather because they do not understand the complicated asylum process and do not have the resources to hire an attorney to represent them in their claim.

Asylum is a necessary protection. At CAIR Coalition we are dedicated to standing with our clients and fighting for their right to pursue that protection.