U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is rejecting asylum cases for minor reasons—such as leaving an irrelevant space blank on an application—which can have life-threatening consequences for asylum-seekers, the Guardian reported Monday.
“This is all very petty and can only be designed to slow down the asylum process, and maybe discourage applicants who do not have representation,” said Michael Smith, director of the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant in Berkeley, California. The Guardian interviewed over a half-dozen immigration attorneys in the United States who described how the Trump administration continues to return applications over pedantic reasons such as putting a dash when asked to list other names they have gone by, or leaving the space blank when asked for a middle name, even if the applicant has neither.
When USCIS returns applications, those seeking refuge have to start the process all over again, which ultimately delays the their chances to work and potentially hinders their ability to remain in the country at all—some just decide to give up altogether. “The frequency with which we’ve seen it happening... that is new, and my sense is that this is just one more way to reject asylum seekers,” said Lindsay Harris, co-director of the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic at the University of the District of Columbia.