Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal


Linda Lam


United States refugee law governs asylum applicants and therefore plays a critical role in shaping the American population. Asylum officers and immigration judges' credibility assessments often dictate whether asylum applications are granted. The REAL ID Act of 2005, a series of statutes passed by Congress to aid the fight against terrorism, changed the standard for rendering credibility determinations. It allows triers of fact-asylum officers and immigration judges-to base adverse credibility decisions on immateral inconsistencies in an asylum applicant's story. These minor inconsistencies often arise from cultural differences or trauma stemming from the applicant's past experiences. This note addresses the inherent flaws of this system and proposes that a trier of fact should not consider such immaterial inconsistencies in the "totality of the circumstances" test used in assessing credibility.

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