THE political asylum regulations adopted by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in 1990 are an improvement, but still fall short of what is needed, says a group that studied the system.
"There was a really bad system before," said Deborah Anker, the director of the National Asylum Study Project at Harvard Law School. "There was very little independent decisionmaking. That has changed."
But the group's report found the system still marred by administrative problems. They included losing applicants' files, an unrealistically high quota of cases for asylum officers, and widely uneven quality among the officers.
The 1990 rules were issued in response to charges that previous procedures were unfair to applicants.
Gregg Beyer, director of the asylum programs for INS, acknowledged shortcomings in the system and said the government already was implementing many of the study's recommendations.
According to the report, the newly trained officers are generally more qualified, better informed, and more open-minded than their predecessors. US foreign policy considerations are less likely to determine the outcome of an individual case.
There is a backlog of more than 215,000 cases in the US.