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2 Nw. J. L. & Soc. Pol'y 1 (2007)

handle is hein.journals/nwjlsopo2 and id is 1 raw text is: -I oylgi. 2007 by N we  7T niversity School of Taw                  Voluire 2 (Sumer 207)
Noihwc~sal  JuiUal ofLaw altd Social Pclay
Asylees in Wonderland: A New Procedural
Perspective on America's Asylum System
Eliot Walker
But I don't want to go among mad people, Alice remarked.
Oh, you can't help that, said the Cat: we're all mad here. I'm mad.
You're mad.
How do you know I'm mad? said Alice,
You must be, said the Cat, or you wouldn't have come here.'
I. INTRODUCTION
Persons seeking asylum in the United States must, like Alice, descend into a world
of rules, standards, and characters that seem increasingly mad. Before the asylum seeker
lies a land of promise, held out by international human rights standards established a half-
century ago.2 Behind the asylum seeker looms the memory and prospect of persecutions
of the most horrible varieties. But in between that promised land and memory is a
wonderland of arbitrary processes the asylum seeker cannot possibly understand,
The decline of confidence in American asylum adjudication is now front-page
material for major mainstream newspapers.3 The tide of resentment has been buoyed
primarily by words from the federal judiciary. Judge Julio Fuentes, of the Third Circuit,
recently condemned the tone, the tenor, the disparagement, and the sarcasm of one
immigration judge to be more appropriate to a court television show than a federal court
proceeding.4 Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner broadly declared that the
adjudication of these cases at the administrative level has fallen below the minimum
standards of legal justice,' Other courts, similarly, have voiced concern over whether
the Board of Immigration Appeals's (BIA) streamlining process has transformed the BIA
into a rubber-stamp machine.' Finally, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales himself
acknowledged the concerns.' In memoranda issued to both immigration judges and the
1 LFWIS CARRO,LL, AiICFr IN WoNIERIAND 51 (Donald J. Gray cd, Norlon Crilical 2d cd. 1992) (1865).
2 Convctiion Rclaling to ilic Saus of Rcfugccs, July 28, 1951, 19 U.S.T. 6260, 189 U.N.T.S, 150,
3 See Adam Liptak, Courts CrilicizeJludges' landling qf/Isylum Cases, N.Y, TME.s, Dcc. 26, 2005, al AL
' Wang -Y AII'y Gcn. of (lc U.S., 423 F,3d 260, 269 (3d Cir. 2005) (reprimanding Iinigralion Judgc
Annie S. Gamy).
5 See id. (quoting Benslimane v. Gonzales, 430 F.3d 828, 830 (7th Cir. 2005)).
6 See, e.g., Berishaj v. Ashcroft, 378 F.3d 314, 331 (3d Cir. 2004) (observing that the BtA may have
shirked its role and duty of ensuring flat the final agency determination in an imnigration case is
reasonably sound and current). Former BIA Judge Lory Rosenberg has also voiced the concern, stating
[w]hen the BIA had a more active role, it would clean up decisions .... Now the BIA is a rbber stamp.
Pancla MacLcan, Immigration Bench Plagued by Haws, NAl 'I. L.J., Feb, 6, 2006, aL 1 [hcrcinaflcr
MacLean, Immigration Bench].
' See Memorandum of Alberto Gonzales, U.S. Attorney General, to Imnigration Judges (Jan. 9, 2006),
available at hi..p t'.s vs vs .iigrmi ion.cona/ncsic rl./i uge.i.a [1k].ud~gc.pd; Mcmoranduui of Albcrlo

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