Rickford and King (2016e) considers ‘strategies for vernacular speakers to be … heard … more clearly and more fairly.’ This recent work is the culmination of three decades of inspiration John R. Rickford’s work has given me. My work in the forensic subfield of Language Analysis for Determination of Origin (LADO) responds to the plain fact that people seeking asylum often are not heard clearly or fairly when they tell their stories. In de Saussure’s words, ‘absurd notions, prejudices, mirages and fictions’—language ideologies—interfere: powerful decision makers are as ignorant of language as the people who defend asylum seekers; power resides in national, social and historical distortions of the complex connections between language and origin. I describe how I address these problems, as a linguist working on asylum appeals, how I and others developed standards for applying linguistics to LADO, and how we represent the field to judges, bureaucrats, and policy makers.