Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, April 23, 2015
Being a single mother or witnessing a gang crime could be enough for Central American illegal immigrants to get on the path to asylum under guidance the Homeland Security Department issued last week, opening new ways for the surge of illegal immigrants to gain a legal foothold in the U.S.
The guidance, a 27-page training document from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, says women who flee Central America because they fear being single heads of households can be deemed part of a targeted social group and can make claims of “credible fear” of being targeted in their home countries.
Likewise, victims of gang crimes, which are epidemic in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, can make the case that they fear retaliation–also proving a “credible fear” and earning a place on the pathway to getting asylum in the U.S.–according to the agency documents, which were obtained by the Judiciary Committees in both the House and Senate, and which suggest a creeping definition that could allow ever more people to claim a right to remain in the country.
“It is an evolving area of law,” Joseph E. Langlois, associate director of the refugee and asylum program at USCIS, told the Senate committee at a hearing Thursday.
Congressional critics, though, said the rules are more a rewrite than an evolution and predicted that they will make it possible for most of those who have arrived in the recent surge of illegal immigration from Central America to gain initial protected status.
“It changes the standards. It’s breathtaking in its liberalities in regard to what a refugee is,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s immigration subcommittee, told Mr. Langlois.