4 Facts About Asylum Seekers

Many times, individuals fleeing persecution in their home countries and yearning for asylum in the U.S. find themselves cast in a negative light. It’s truly unfortunate that lawmakers from both sides have deliberately clouded the waters surrounding U.S. asylum law and the process involved in seeking it. Instead of working together to bring about meaningful immigration reform, these lawmakers persist in placing obstacles in the path of those seeking asylum – individuals who carry a reasonable fear of persecution from their homelands. Want to separate fact from fiction? Look no further. Here’s some illuminating information about the asylum process from  Chicago immigration lawyers at Francis Law.

1. Safeguarding Asylum: A Right Granted by Law

In the aftermath of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust, numerous nations came together to extend refuge to people fleeing danger in their own lands. With the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, along with the Refugee Convention of 1951 and the Refugee Convention Protocol of 1967, the right to seek asylum was duly acknowledged.

In 1980, the U.S. enacted the Refugee Act, offering protection to individuals escaping persecution based on factors such as their political beliefs, membership in a particular group, nationality, religion, or race. This federal law was specifically designed to prevent the repatriation of individuals with valid fears of persecution, providing them with the sanctuary they desperately seek.

2. The Arduous Road to Asylum

Seeking asylum is anything but a straightforward process. Asylum-seekers must substantiate their cases upon arrival at the border or any other designated U.S. port of entry. Those lawmakers who accuse asylum-seekers of breaking the law are far from speaking the truth. Legally, individuals can seek asylum either by presenting themselves for screening at a U.S. port of entry or by entering the country without inspection and subsequently requesting asylum, citing their well-founded fear of persecution.

Before someone can be granted asylum, they must undergo stringent security checks and criminal background investigations during the inspection process. Following that, they are propelled into a lengthy journey involving multiple government agencies, all in an effort to establish the legitimacy of their fear of persecution. Individuals who have their asylum claims rejected face deportation. Instead of adhering to these established laws, those seeking asylum at the border have been unceremoniously denied their right to pursue asylum under conventional rules, being sent back to Mexico to endure an agonizing wait.

3. Policies that Attempt to Interfere with the Right to Asylum Don’t Stop People from Seeking it at the Border

Former President Trump implemented several policies aimed at ending the right to seek asylum at the border. However, although President Biden promised to restore a fair asylum system, he has not completely reversed Trump’s policies. Take, for example, Title 42, which allowed the Trump administration to expel asylum seekers without giving them a chance to seek protection. Surprisingly, this policy remains in effect under President Biden, resulting in thousands of cases involving violence against those expelled to Mexico.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have defended these restrictive measures, arguing that they deter people from coming to the border. But here’s the catch: these policies have proven to be ineffective in stopping arrivals at the border. Instead, they have prompted migrants to make multiple attempts to cross, resulting in a significant surge in asylum seekers under both Trump and Biden’s leadership.

4.  Asylees Tend to Become Important Members of Their Communities in the U.S.

Contrary to what some politicians may say, the majority of asylees are eager to become self-sufficient and valuable members of their communities. They have started businesses, created jobs, become advocates for others’ rights, and contributed billions in taxes. In fact, a study discovered that asylees contribute over $19,000 annually to the economy. Surprisingly, reducing the number of asylum seekers by just 25% would result in a $20.5 billion loss for the U.S. over five years.