On behalf of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), IRLI submitted an amicus brief (attached here) to answer three questions posed by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA): (1) whether for immigration law purposes a “minor” should be defined as an individual under the age of 18 or 21; (2) whether being under the age of 21 creates exceptional circumstances to allow for a delay in filing an asylum application; and (3) what is a reasonable delay in filing an asylum application due to exceptional circumstances.
The FAIR brief concluded that the term “minor” is properly defined as an individual who is under the age of 18. Although the BIA has never formally defined the term, its different uses both inside and outside of immigration law do not support the view that an alien over the age of 18 can be legally classified as a minor. For example, U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS), the government agency charged with adjudicating asylum applications, defines a minor as an individual under the age of 18 in its training manual and on its website. The FAIR brief also concluded that age, specifically being a young adult, is neither an unforeseeable or unique circumstance that qualifies as an exception to the asylum filing requirements. Finally, the FAIR brief concluded that regulatory history and BIA precedent encourage a case-by-case analysis into the facts of each case to determine what constitutes a reasonable delay. Even so, the FAIR brief demonstrated through regulatory history and BIA precedent that delays of more than six months beyond the statutory one-year limit for applying for asylum after arrival in the United States should be the rare exception.
Dale L. Wilcox, IRLI’s Executive Director commented, “IRLI is pleased to file a brief on behalf of FAIR regarding these important questions. FAIR has submitted briefs in the BIA for more than twenty years, and the Board regularly recognizes FAIR’s contribution to its decisions.” Wilcox continued, “The positions taken by FAIR in the instant brief are in harmony with BIA precedent, statutory law, the regulatory history of the provisions at issue, and the best interests of the nation.”