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Kiakombua v. Wolf: Protecting the credible fear process for seeking asylum

In June 2019, we filed a case on behalf of five asylum seekers challenging the April 2019 changes to the Credible Fear Interview Lesson Plan—the government’s policy for conducting a screening interview to assess whether an asylum seeker has a credible fear of persecution in their home country and should be permitted to to pursue their asylum claim in immigration court. These changes heighten the risk that the tens of thousands of asylum seekers who go through the interviews annually will be deported to countries where they face persecution and death. Just before argument on the cross-motion for summary judgment, the government informed the Court that it had revised the Credible Fear Interview Lesson Plan once again, and so we filed a supplemental complaint to challenge the September 2019 version of the Lesson Plan again.

The lawsuit claims that the Lesson Plans must be vacated as unlawful under immigration law, administrative law, and the Constitution.

On October 31, 2020, the district court granted our motion for summary judgment, holding that six particular policies in the Lesson Plans were unlawful.  The Court declared those policies unlawful and ordered the vacatur of both the April 2019 and the September 2019 versions of the Credible Fear Lesson Plan.  In addition, the Court ordered the government to bring back (at government expense) our two previously-deported Plaintiffs (Julia and Sofia) and to give them new credible fear interviews under lawful policies.  On December 15, 2020, the government filed a notice that it was appealing the summary judgment decision to the D.C. Circuit, but the government dismissed that appeal in July 2021, effectively ending the case.

Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) was co-counsel in this litigation. The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP), Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS), and American Gateways are consulting counsel.

Follow the Case

  • Press Release: Judge Declares Unlawful and Vacates Government’s Asylum Seeker “Credible Fear” Standards

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  • IRAP & RAICES File Challenge to Trump Administration’s Latest Attack on Asylum Seekers

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