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Asylum Procedures [65 FR 76121] [FR 66-00]
FEDERAL REGISTER CITE:
65 FR 76121
DATE OF PUBLICATION:
December 6, 2000
BILLING CODE: 4410-10
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Immigration and Naturalization Service
8 CFR Part 208
[INS Order No. 1865-97; AG Order No. 2340-2000]
Immigration and Naturalization Service, Justice; and Executive Office for Immigration Review, Justice.
This final rule amends the Department of Justice regulations implementing the provisions of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), governing asylum claims. Additionally, this rule amends portions of the regulations governing cases in which an applicant has established past persecution or in which an applicant may be able to avoid persecution in a particular country by relocating to another area of that country. Finally, the rule identifies factors that may be consi
dered in the exercise of discretion in asylum cases in which the alien has established past persecution but may not have a well-founded fear of future persecution. This final rule will ensure that asylum applications are processed in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act (Act), as amended by IIRIRA, as well as with international instruments.
This rule is effective January 5, 2001.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
For matters relating to the Immigration and Naturalization Service
--Joanna Ruppel, International Affairs, Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 425 I Street NW., ULLICO third floor, Washington, DC 20536, telephone (202) 305-2663.
For matters relating to the Executive Office for Immigration Review
--Charles Adkins-Blanch, General Counsel, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Suite 2400, 5107 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, Virginia 22041, telephone (703) 305-0470.
Regulations To Implement the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996
On March 6, 1997, the Service and EOIR jointly published in the
, at 62 FR 10312, an interim rule to implement Public Law 104-208 (110 Stat. 3546) (IIRIRA). That legislation significantly amended several parts of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“Act” or “INA”), including part 208. The interim regulations implementing IIRIRA were preceded by a notice of proposed rulemaking, published in the
on January 3, 1997, at 62 FR 444, and providing a 30-day comment period. The interim rule provided a 120-day comment period. The Department of Justice (Department) received 39 comments on the interim rule in addition to the 124 comments already received as a result of the proposed rule. This final rule reflects further changes
resulting from comments received in response to both the original proposed rule and the interim rule.
Proposed Rule Regarding Past Persecution, Internal Relocation, and Discretion (Past Persecution Rule)
On June 11, 1998, at 63 FR 31945, the Service and EOIR jointly published in the
a proposed rule to change portions of 8 CFR 208.13 and 208.16 in order to provide further guidance on adjudicating asylum cases and withholding of removal cases when an applicant has established past persecution and when the applicant may be able to avoid persecution in his or her home country by relocating to another area of that country. The rule proposed to establish new guidelines concerning the Attorney General’s exercise of discretion in cases in which past persecution is established, and the types o
f evidence that may be considered in determining whether an applicant has a well-founded fear of future persecution. Additionally, the rule proposed to identify new factors that could be considered in the determination whether to grant asylum when an applicant has established past persecution but no longer has a well-founded fear of future persecution. The Department received 35 comments on the proposed past persecution rule.
The Department has elected to split part 208 from the rest of the IIRIRA interim regulations and to incorporate amendments to part 208 into this final rule based both on comments to the IIRIRA interim rule and on comments to the June 1998 proposed rule regarding past persecution. In the future, the Department will publish a proposed rule concerning the definition of “persecution” and the definition of “particular social group.” Those new proposals are based in part on certain of the provisions being made fi
nal in this rule.
Most of the commenters on both the interim IIRIRA rule and proposed past persecution rule represented either attorney organizations or voluntary organizations predominantly involved with refugees and asylum claimants. The Department also received comments from individual attorneys and the regional representative of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Since many of the comments were duplicative or endorsed the submissions of other commenters, the Department will address the comments by sec
tion and topic, rather than reference each comment and commenter. The following discussion also identifies amendments made by the Department to clarify and streamline the regulations as part of the Administration's reinvention
and regulation streamlining initiative.
To clarify jurisdiction over asylum applications, the Department has reorganized and revised this section as follows:
(1) Language has been added to § 208.2(a) to establish that the Office of International Affairs has initial jurisdiction over credible fear determinations under § 208.30 and reasonable fear determinations under § 208.31.
(2) Language in § 208.2(a) relating to the filing of a complete application has been removed as redundant with the provisions of § 208.3.
(3) Section 208.2(b)(3) has been redesignated as § 208.2(b) to provide a general description of Immigration Court jurisdiction, relevant to the majority of asylum applications adjudicated in Immigration Court, prior to discussion of the more limited jurisdiction applicable in circumstances described in new § 208.2(c).
(4) The first sentence in new § 208.2(b) (formerly § 208.2(b)(3)), which refers to an immigration judge’s jurisdiction over asylum applications “after a copy of the charging document has been filed with the Immigration Court,” has been amended. The Department has removed the words “a copy of” from that sentence because, in general, only the charging document with the original signature of the Service officer who issued the charging document may be filed with the Immigration Court. The Department also amende
d the last sentence in § 208.2(b) to establish that immigration judges have exclusive jurisdiction over credible fear determinations that have been referred to the Immigration Court pursuant to § 208.30, as well as reasonable fear determinations that have been referred to the Immigration Court pursuant to § 208.31. In addition, the reference to “Executive Office for Immigration Review” has been replaced with “Immigration Court” because only immigration judges have jurisdiction over credible fear and reasona
ble fear review proceedings.
(5) Section 208.2(b)(1) has been redesignated as § 208.2(c), governing asylum and withholding proceedings for those aliens not entitled to removal proceedings under section 240 of the Act. Section 208.2(c)(1) relates to aliens who are not entitled to proceedings under section 240 of the Act and are eligible to apply only for asylum and withholding of removal. Section 208.2(c)(2) relates to jurisdiction over proceedings that are limited to requests for withholding of removal pursuant to § 208.31, after an al
ien subject to reinstatement of a prior order under section 241(a)(5) of the Act or administrative removal under section 238(b) of the Act has been found to have a reasonable fear.
(6) The Department has rewritten the language of § 208.2(c)(1)(v) (formerly § 208.2(b)(1)(v)), to clarify the existing rules relating to cases falling under section 235(c) of the Act. Section 235(c) provides an expedited removal process for certain aliens who are suspected of being inadmissible on national security grounds; the Service has the authority to order such an alien removed without further inquiry or hearing by an immigration judge, as provided in § 235.8 of this chapter.
The current regulatory scheme provides adequate safeguards to ensure that the expedited nature of removal under section 235(c) is balanced against the right to apply for asylum in appropriate cases. An immigration officer or immigration judge must initiate certain procedures described in 8 CFR 235.8 when an arriving alien is suspected of being inadmissible on security or related grounds. Only after those procedures have been completed and a permanent order of inadmissibility is issued would the question ari
se regarding eligibility for asylum or withholding of removal. Although some categories of persons found inadmissible on those grounds are ineligible for asylum, other persons, such as those found inadmissible based on membership in a terrorist organization, remain eligible for asylum.
The Regional Director is authorized to pretermit an asylum application for aliens who have been issued a permanent order of inadmissibility. However, in some cases, and in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, the Regional Director may choose to place persons found subject to removal under section 235(c) of the Act, but who are not subject to the bars to asylum, in asylum-only proceedings under § 208.2(c)(1) by issuing a Form I-863, Notice of Referral to Immigration Judge. In those cases in which the Se
rvice has affirmatively decided to place an alien in asylum-only proceedings and has issued a Form I-863, the immigration judge would then have jurisdiction to hear the alien’s asylum application. Of course, unless the Service has issued a Form I-863 to an alien who is found to be removable under section 235(c) of the Act, the immigration judges have no jurisdiction with respect to those cases.
The Department further notes that § 235.8 of this chapter, as amended by the regulations implementing the Convention Against Torture, expressly limits the applicability of § 208.2. Section 235.8(b)(4) specifically states that persons seeking withholding under section 241(b)(3) of the Act or the Convention Against Torture are not subject to the “provisions of part 208 of this chapter relating to consideration or review by an immigration judge, the Board of Immigration Appeals or an asylum officer.” Instead,
it is the Service’s responsibility to ensure that no removals are conducted under section 235(c) that violate our international obligations; the process for making such a determination remains within the Service’s control.
(7) Section 208.2(c)(1)(vi) [formerly section 208.2(b)(1)(vi)] has been amended to clarify that the exclusive jurisdiction of the immigration judge comes into effect only when the district director refers an alien described in this provision for a hearing that is limited to asylum and withholding of removals.
(8) In § 208.2(c)(3)(i) (formerly § 208.2(b)(2)(i)), which describes rules of procedures, the reference to “8 CFR part 240” in the first sentence has been amended to read “8 CFR part 240, subpart A,” to clarify that hearings limited to eligibility for asylum and/or withholding of removal shall be conducted under the same procedures that apply in removal proceedings.
(9) Section § 208.2(b)(2)(ii) has been redesignated as § 208.2(c)(3)(ii), but otherwise is unchanged.
(10) Section 208.2(b)(2)(iii) has been redesignated as § 208.2(c)(3)(iii). Additionally, it has been amended by removing reference to sections 208, 212(h), 212(i) of the Act and by adding an exception based on a showing of exceptional circumstances, in order to reflect the statutory language in section 240(b)(7) of the Act.