Do you have a Credible Fear? Challenges, limitations, and cuts to the legal categorizations of the “asylum seeker”

Authors: Leanne Purdum*, University of Georgia
Topics: Legal Geography, Immigration/Transnationalism, Human Rights
Keywords: immigration,asylum,legal geography
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 34
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines the criminalization of migration and the detention of immigrants inside of the largest “family” detention center in the US. The largest of the three existing family detention centers, the South Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC), in Dilley Texas, is my site of research. The majority of women and children detained there are detained under a section of immigration law called “expedited removal”. This means that the detainee will be deported quickly back to their home country. However, one small exception in the law allows for a person to pause their deportation and continue their case in immigration court IF they can prove they have a credible fear of persecution for returning to their home country. This interview is the subject of this paper. The “Credible Fear Interview” (CFI) is one important site where the category of the “valid, deserving asylum seeker” is produced. In this presentation I show the challenges to the every-day process of the interview. I also discuss the ways this interview, and the laws which shape the outcomes, have changed during my 4 years of volunteer engagement as a legal assistant in the center. I discuss the limitations to asylum law, and the recent cuts to the asylum process, including the “Remain in Mexico” program and other obstacles to asylum.

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