Developments with Respect to the One-Year Deadline for Filing Asylum Applications

Developments with Respect to the One-Year Deadline for Filing Asylum Applications

September 20, 2016

Washington, D.C - Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), Dobrin & Han, PC, American Immigration Council, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild commend the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) for reversing course and now allowing asylum applicants to file their applications by mail or in person at an immigration court window. This change in policy—adopted in OPPM 16-01 on September 14, 2016—partially resolves the issues raised in the nationwide class action, Mendez-Rojas v. Johnson, No. 2:16-cv-01024-RSM (W.D. Wash). On June 30, 2016, the above-listed groups filed suit on behalf of asylum seekers who recently entered or will enter the United States and who are released from custody after expressing a fear of return, challenging the government’s failure to 1) provide them with adequate notice of the one-year filing deadline for asylum applications, and 2) establish a uniform mechanism that ensures class members have an opportunity to timely file their applications.

On August 12, 2016, the parties filed a stipulated motion to stay the proceedings to allow the parties to pursue settlement discussions to seek resolution of these claims. On September 14, 2016, EOIR issued OPPM 16-01, addressing some of the concerns raised in the complaint—namely, the subregulatory policy of requiring that asylum applications be filed in open court. Pursuant to OPPM 16-01, asylum applicants in removal proceedings can now file their asylum applications by mail or in person at the immigration court window prior to the hearing. This change will allow many class members to timely file their asylum applications pursuant to the statutory deadline.

However, this policy does not address all of the issues in the lawsuit. Importantly, it does not address the fact that class members are not provided notice that an asylum application generally must be filed within one year of arrival in the United States. In addition, many class members do not receive hearing notices immediately following their release from custody, and many wait more than a year before learning that their cases have been calendared with an immigration court. Because these individuals do not know where to file their applications until after the one-year filing deadline has elapsed, they remain unable to meet this deadline through no fault of their own. Accordingly, Plaintiffs will continue to pursue a solution that ensures that all class members have not only clear notice of the statutory deadline, but also an opportunity to submit their asylum applications in a timely manner, even if their case is not yet calendared with an immigration court.

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For press inquiries, contact Wendy Feliz at [email protected] or 202-507-7524 

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