Washington Law Review


The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) imposed a one-year filing deadline on all applications for asylum. Under this law, an alien applying for asylum bears the burden of showing that he or she applied for asylum within one year of arrival into the United States. The word "arrival" is not defined in immigration law, but the Second Circuit recently held that not every border crossing into the country is an "arrival" for purposes of the asylum filing deadline. The court's reasoning was reminiscent of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1963 decision in Rosenberg v. Fleuti, which held that a lawful permanent resident does not make an "entry" into the United States upon returning from an "innocent, casual, and brief" trip abroad. This Comment examines the meaning of the word "arrival" as used in the asylum filing deadline and argues that Congress has inadvertently created a new Fleuti debate over when travel outside the country is meaningfully interruptive of an asylum seeker's presence in the United States. It further argues that federal courts have jurisdiction to consider the proper meaning of the word "arrival" in the one-year rule and should do so according to legislative intent, which was not to use the filing deadline to preclude legitimate refugees from seeking asylum in the United States.

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