Immigration Asylum and the Credible Fear Interview

Andres Mejer: I’m Andres Mejer, thank you for listening in to the English segment of our radio show Para Ser Legal. We’re going to talk about now is what, what’s the first thing that happens when you claim asylum? It’s called a credible fear interview. So non-citizens who are attempting to enter the United States either with documentation, like a Visa or a green card holder or by using fake documents will be deported. 

Andres Mejer: Unless they say they’re afraid to go to the home country. There is a process called expedited removal. It means that very quickly you get it. You don’t even see a judge order a removal boom you’re gone. You’re put on a plane as soon as they get permission travel document for you. Unless. You’re asked. 

Andres Mejer: Are you afraid to go back to your country and you say yes. If you say yes, you will then have a credible interview with an asylum officer. Now. Typically they have to give you at least 48 hours to prepare unless you waive this requirement and you can waive it and I suggest you likely do because it could take weeks to get the hearing don’t adjourn it unnecessarily. Now. Officer will either be in person or via phone interpreter will you be in person or via phone. It really depends. There are some situations where both the officer and the interpreter are calling in by phone. Incredibly important that you understand what the interpreter is saying. If you’re unclear about the interpreter. Say so. 

Andres Mejer: They will get you another one. Look I have clients whose first language is an indigenous language my in AZ tech what have you it’s not Spanish. In some cases, if they went to work in the building didn’t have much of an education they never learned how to speak Spanish properly getting a Spanish interpreter is of no use because they don’t they can’t communicate. I have difficulty communicating with those clients even though I’m a fluent Spanish speaker I don’t speak their dialect, so usually, we have to get a family or a relative that will help translate for us. 

Andres Mejer: So first a matter. Make sure you understand the interpreter. Then the first set of questions really talks about your background your name, your date of birth, your home country and any family ties the U.S., children, parents, spouse, they’re seeing is there some avenue you know basically. 

Andres Mejer: Should your family have filed for you already? That can give you a better a cleaner and easier avenue than asylum. The next set of questions talks about why you are afraid to go back to your home country and what’s the basis for your fear? Remember in the asylum contents three basic questions. 1 Are you afraid to go back? Are you afraid of persecution? So they don’t want to know why did something bad happen to you previously that gives you a strong suspicion that if you go back it will happen again? Or what basis do you have the belief that you have, that bad stuff will happen to you? Well you know. Someone came to your house, the house burned it down, killed two people, your relatives and left a note saying hey when your next buddy. Well, I’d be afraid. You know that that’s a pretty obvious sign. It’s not always so clear. Why are you afraid? Did something happen or do you have a really good reason to suspect that something bad will happen? The second asylum question is, who are you afraid of, the government or group the government can’t control? 

Andres Mejer: And you’ll be asked about why do you fear persecution. You must have either been threatened or harmed because of race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, particular social group, or political opinion. It has to be one of those five protected grounds. 

Andres Mejer: Officer comes so I’m afraid of the government. I’m sorry I’m afraid of the gangs they are extorting me. 

Andres Mejer: How do I know. Well, they came with a police uniform and the officer said if you don’t pay next time I’m walking out with your hand. So you’re not just afraid of the gang you’re also afraid of the government, because that individual, well he’s a police officer, he works for the government. So it can become murky. Incredibly important that it is one of those five protected reasons though. You will then be asked whether you faced torture or mistreatment by a government official? Now we’re talking about there’s a law convention against torture. So it’s separate then the asylum scenario but if you are afraid you have to express a reason. You’ll then be asked disqualifying questions like, have you ever persecuted others? 

Andres Mejer: Have you committed a crime in another country? Were you associated are you associated with terrorists or groups accused of violence? 

Andres Mejer: So let’s say you’re a reformed gang member. When you were younger. You know they said You either join or die. So you joined a couple of years later when they started asking to do really bad stuff. You said I can’t do this. And you picked up and you left. Now you go back. You’re dead. You may have some tattoos you may have some evidence of participation in gang-related activities. Well, the question then becomes a totality of circumstances whether you deserve to get it, but you’re still going to this to give you the opportunity to get in front of a judge. So. Why you’re free to go back? What’s the basis for the persecution? Whether you’ll face torture or mistreatment government officials and have you ever done certain things that could disqualify you?

Andres Mejer: Lastly you’ll be given a short summary and asked if you have something to add make sure the summary is accurate. It isn’t always accurate. You don’t want them changing what you said. Officers would prepare a transcript and will then decide whether you show a significant possibility of being able to prove a case for asylum in front of an immigration judge. If they say yes well. Then. Forgive me. The office will provide the written decision and the transcript. If you found credible you’ll be allowed to file for asylum. You’ll be granted asylum. 

Andres Mejer: If you’re not credible. You can either accept the decision and then you’re deported or you can request an immigration judge to review the decision. Always request the judge to review the decision. The officers are often wrong. Many times we’ve had it. Don’t believe that, you know, look nowadays they’re trained, they have less training than ever before. The Trump administration wants customs border officials, not asylum officials making those kinds of decisions, which is absurd. 

Andres Mejer: They don’t have the training or the qualifications or we know they don’t have the education we know they don’t have the background. Now all of a sudden you’re going to go on a course and you’re going to be able to train. You’re gonna be able to determine who’s qualifies for asylum or not. They just want people to say no as quickly as possible. So, a credible fear interview happens when you present yourselves at the border or when you’re caught inside the US, whether you enter legally and overstayed, or you presented fake documents, or you entered legally the United States. Either way, you’re gonna have a credible fear interview. It focuses on, it’s by an asylum officer and it’s do you have enough, are you likely to be able to prove your case? If you’re likely to prove your case you’re going to get the opportunity for asylum. 

Andres Mejer: If you’re not? You’re gonna get deported unless you request a judge review it, always request a judge review it. It is incredibly important that you speak to an immigration attorney before your interview. 

Andres Mejer: Very hard to do it afterward. I’ve had too many clients that said they weren’t afraid to go back to the country when they were. It must come from you, you the immigrant the one has told the officer that you’re afraid, your attorney doing it for you? They can honor it or not but it’s a battle, it’s a challenge. I’d rather avoid it just tell them you’re afraid assuming that you are.