Advocates for asylum seekers have filed a freedom of information lawsuit against U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, seeking information about why the Boston asylum office is approving fewer applications from Maine.
“We really just want to know why the Boston office has an approval rating that is extremely low, especially when you look at the entire country,” says Julia Brown with the Immigration Legal Advocacy Project. “We really just want information as to why that could be.”
According to the complaint, the Boston office approved 8 percent of asylum seekers, compared with 30 percent nationally.
Asylum seekers whose applications are denied move to immigration court, where they must defend themselves from deportation, and even if they’re ultimately granted asylum it can add years to their wait. Advocacy groups say the court process also adds to the trauma that asylum-seekers have already experienced.
In an emailed statement, a USCIS spokesperson says the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU of Maine, the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic at the Maine School of Law, and the Immigration Legal Advocacy Project.