I just had a consultation that exemplifies the stupidity of the Board’s decision in Matter of D-X- and Y-Z-, issued last month. An asylum applicant cannot win asylum if she has been “firmly resettled” in a third country. As the asylum law goes, if you have permission to go somewhere else where you would be safe, then why not just go there rather than get asylum here?
But the Board has gone a step too far. The Board says that even if the documents proving firm resettlement are fake or fraudulently obtained, you’re still firmly resettled. In that case, the Board said a couple who had fled
China, got fake Belizean documents, and then came to the United States to seek asylum were “firmly resettled in Belize.
“[T]he problem in this case is not with the fraudulent nature of the documents per se. Rather, the respondents used fraudulently obtained documents that permitted them to firmly resettle in a third country where they were not at risk of persecution. As noted by the Immigration Judge, the permits are facially valid. Even if the respondents used some form of fraud or bribery through a middleman to obtain them, there has been no showing that they were not issued by the Belize Government.”
If that couple gets deported to Belize, they will not be able to stay there with fake documents. Belize will catch on eventually. And when it does, that couple, who are bona fide refugees and are likely to be killed or persecuted in China, will be deported to China.
Today, I met with a 17 year old Somali female who was given a fraudulent Kenyan passport by a family she had been living with. She was essentially their servant from the age of 8 years old when she fled Somalia without her parents. I have no doubt this girl would get asylum – we have litigated several identical cases with good results. Except for her fake passport. If Matter of D-X- is the rule, then my client is not eligible for asylum. Our government will tell her she has to go back to Kenya, where she has no permission to reside (she doesn’t even have the passport any longer). And even if she can’t stay there for long, and even if she gets deported to Somalia, it isn’t our problem. She is “firmly resettled.” That can’t be what Congress intended when it crafted the firm resettlement exception. There is nothing “firm” about a fake passport. And living in a country with fake papers, essentially in shadows, is not “resettlement.”