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A new use for a chatbot—initially designed to help with parking tickets—has raised some concerns as it is now being used by those who seek asylum. 

The bot is called DoNotPay and uses automated chat AI via Facebook Messenger. Developed by Joshua Browder, a student at Stanford University, the bot is now being adjusted to assist refugees seeking asylum status in the United States and Canada, as well as provide more rudimentary assistance to those in the United Kingdom, news reports said.

Initially, the bot helped motorists to toss out some 160,000 parking penalties, according to news reports.

However, “this isn’t a parking ticket,” Reid F. Trautz, director of the Practice & Professionalism Center at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told Legaltech News. “Asylum is really about life and death issues.”

Trautz does see some benefits with the bot. “It may work for a number of people, and that’s great,” Trautz said. “I don’t think it’s a replacement for going to a lawyer.”

For instance, it could help someone organize their thoughts before meeting with an immigration attorney. Moreover, Trautz said the designer of the app is “clearly a brilliant kid.” Overall, he said he supports the use of technology that makes the delivery of legal services faster.

But those seeking asylum may not get the correct advice they need upfront, he added. And if there is conflict between what an asylum seeker says using the bot and what he/she says later on, there could be some concerns raised by the government.

“It’s not about filling out the form,” Trautz advised. “It’s about putting the right information into that form.”

Trautz said members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association “know all too well there are people who keep searching for an answer to their immigration problem.”

He explains that asylum seekers need to put into words what happened to them, and that process may take several meetings with an immigration attorney. There could be traumatic events, and the asylum seeker may find it difficult at first to be fully honest. The client needs to develop a level of trust and honesty with the attorney, he said.

At times, asylum requests may not even be the right path for those seeking immigration status, and an immigration attorney will be in a good position to advise the client on which path to take, according to Trautz. He also pointed out that the federal government only accepts filings printed on paper, which could pose an issue with an automated, electronic bot.

Browder could not be reached for immediate comment.

A new use for a chatbot—initially designed to help with parking tickets—has raised some concerns as it is now being used by those who seek asylum. 

The bot is called DoNotPay and uses automated chat AI via Facebook Messenger. Developed by Joshua Browder, a student at Stanford University, the bot is now being adjusted to assist refugees seeking asylum status in the United States and Canada, as well as provide more rudimentary assistance to those in the United Kingdom, news reports said.

Initially, the bot helped motorists to toss out some 160,000 parking penalties, according to news reports.

However, “this isn’t a parking ticket,” Reid F. Trautz, director of the Practice & Professionalism Center at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told Legaltech News. “Asylum is really about life and death issues.”

Trautz does see some benefits with the bot. “It may work for a number of people, and that’s great,” Trautz said. “I don’t think it’s a replacement for going to a lawyer.”

For instance, it could help someone organize their thoughts before meeting with an immigration attorney. Moreover, Trautz said the designer of the app is “clearly a brilliant kid.” Overall, he said he supports the use of technology that makes the delivery of legal services faster.

But those seeking asylum may not get the correct advice they need upfront, he added. And if there is conflict between what an asylum seeker says using the bot and what he/she says later on, there could be some concerns raised by the government.

“It’s not about filling out the form,” Trautz advised. “It’s about putting the right information into that form.”

Trautz said members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association “know all too well there are people who keep searching for an answer to their immigration problem.”

He explains that asylum seekers need to put into words what happened to them, and that process may take several meetings with an immigration attorney. There could be traumatic events, and the asylum seeker may find it difficult at first to be fully honest. The client needs to develop a level of trust and honesty with the attorney, he said.

At times, asylum requests may not even be the right path for those seeking immigration status, and an immigration attorney will be in a good position to advise the client on which path to take, according to Trautz. He also pointed out that the federal government only accepts filings printed on paper, which could pose an issue with an automated, electronic bot.

Browder could not be reached for immediate comment.