Welcome to America Part 2 – Immigration Judge Uses Wikipedia to Deny Asylum

Oh sorry, maybe that should be “NOT Welcome to America” given the recent trend in immigration.

The USCIS is fighting incredibly hard to apply the most restrictive approach to the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA)–that offers or has the promise of offering relief to children over 21 who age out while awaiting as beneficiaries of a visa petition filed on behalf of them. It has issued 8 memos to clarify the ‘CSPA’ within the past 5 years and all of them come across as unclear, convoluted, highly debatable [I will take this up in a later post in more detail].

Such is the nature of Immigration Law — immigration judges and officers are not clear as to ‘how’ to apply the law. In a system of judicial checks and balances when incorrect applications of law can be overturned later, that ‘may’ be acceptable. Although when the Bush Administration appoints cronies as immigration judges who are more likely to reject asylum bids and deport persons who really should be granted relief, that surely is a problem. [See this graphic]

What is all the more UNACCEPTABLE is using WIKIPEDIA to reject an asylum bid. It’s not acceptable in academic papers in Graduate school (unless your topic is Wikipedia) and it is definitely appalling when a United States Immigration Judge (IJ) uses Wikipedia to determine the validity of identity documents! This is the case:

An Ethiopian woman’s asylum application was initially denied since she failed to establish her identity concretely. Her case was reopened for consideration of a travel document known as a laissez-passer. After considering evidence that included information from an Internet website, the IJ found that issuance of the laissez-passer was insufficient to establish the alien’s identity. The Board of Immigration found that the IJ’s decision was not clearly erroneous, but the BIA stated that it did not condone the use of the website. The court of appeals held that the BIA failed to adequately explain its conclusion that the alien did not establish her identity. The BIA acknowledged that it was improper for the IJ to have considered information from the website, which could be edited by anyone, and the BIA made no independent determination that the alien had failed to establish her identity. It could not be determined whether the IJ would have reached the same conclusion without consulting the website.

So wait, this Immigration Judge referred to Wikipedia to prove that her identification document was insufficient proof and actually thought he could cite it in his reason for rejection AND that it would be acceptable?! Who appoints idiots like these… Oh wait, never mind.

This gave me hope that we pro-migrant bloggers could maybe do our own (no la) Migrapedia and maybe help with asylum decisions. In fact, I have no doubt that some of us know our Immigration laws much better than those who unfortunately have the power to make decisions that are ruining so many lives.

Alas, the dream was short-lived.

The Eight Circuit has granted the petition for review and remanded the case back to the BIA with a note that usage of Wikipedia in immigration decisions is unacceptable.

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