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A student who fled China as a member of Falcun Gong because he feared arrest as many of his classmates had been detained, arrived in the U.S. without a visa. He applied more than one year after he arrived. Although he submitted proof to the Judge at his removal hearing that he had attended protests in China and that he had exposed himself to imprisonment for having publicly held himself out as a member of this spiritual group, nevertheless he was denied asylum because he had not filed within one year of arrival here. According to a study that recently appeared in the Social Services Research Network, many qualified asylum applicants have been rejected solely because of this arbitrary time limitation.A report promulgated by Human Rights First last week has confirmed this. Instead of concentrating on the merits of an asylum case, Judges in spite of evidence presented of life threatening or harsh persecution of the applicant, too frequently have focused on this arbitrary one year rule. In fact this one year time-line was passed by Congress because it was considered an anti-fraud measure.The United States is the most sympathetic country in the world to asylum seekers. At the base of the Statue of Liberty are expressed the following from a poem by Emma Lazarus:“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.....”According to reliable sources over one/third of all asylum claims are filed afer the one year deadline. According to these reliable sources over the past 10 years, probably 21,000 refugees deported would have been granted asylum if they had filed within one year. Many of these rejected applicants were unaware that the U.S. offered asylum until they realized this too late. In China many of these rejected asylum seekers who had returned to China were immediately imprisoned. There is also a great discrepancy for asylum seekers based on the country the asylees apply from. For example, only 17% of Iraqis who filed late were rejected; about 75% of Guatemalans on the other hand who filed late were rejected. In the case of Falcun Gong since it is not a well regulated group and has no systematized membership rolls, Judges are often perplexed as to whether to overlook the time limitation or not. While it is important to eliminate fraud in applications, the arbitrary time limit is not likely to resolve the fraud issue. This one year rule seems to be more likely to create injustice to many asylum seekers.
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