Dropping the Veil: How an Investigation into One Asylum Office Reveals Systemic Failures within the U.S. Affirmative Asylum System
54 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2023 Last revised: 5 Aug 2023
Date Written: February 13, 2023
The ten asylum offices scattered throughout the United States make life-or-death decisions every year in tens of thousands of asylum cases. Yet, little is known about the internal workings of U.S. asylum offices where the informal, non-adjudicative framework for deciding asylum claims takes place behind closed doors with very little transparency. Our three-year study into the Boston Asylum Office is the first ever comprehensive empirical and qualitative study into the inner workings of an asylum office in the United States. This article takes a deeper dive into our study’s various findings to highlight systemic failures that are likely pervasive throughout the U.S. affirmative asylum system. We argue that our findings are particularly salient given new federal policies that place even greater authority into the hands of frontline asylum officers. We conclude by making a number of recommendations that would help to address the due process concerns within the affirmative asylum adjudication system identified in our study.
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