US judge opens door for thousands to apply for asylum

SEATTLE (AP) — A federal judge in Seattle has opened the door for thousands of immigrants to apply for asylum, finding that the Department of Homeland Security has routinely failed to notify them of a deadline for filing their applications.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez issued his ruling Thursday in a lawsuit brought by immigrant rights groups.

The case concerns immigrants who fear persecution if returned to their home country. They’re often released from custody pending deportation proceedings, but they typically aren’t directly informed that they only have a year to apply for asylum.

Martinez ordered the department to begin providing notice about the one-year deadline, to accept applications from people who missed the deadline because they weren’t told about it, and to come up with procedures for ensuring that asylum-seekers can file their applications in a timely manner.