Inside Perilous Judgment: Asylum in the US

Posted on March 7, 2016 in Immigration, Novels

Asylum seekers

A Chinese couple escapes forced abortion and sterilization. A Mexican man flees from ruthless drug lords. A teenage woman from Guinea runs from rape and torture because of her ethnicity. A Ugandan man seeks refuge because his political views bring threats of torture and certain death.

Every day, people with stories like these apply for asylum in the US. In Perilous Judgment, asylum and the obstacles to obtaining it are a driving force in the lead character’s journey.

What is Asylum?

Asylum is protection granted to non-citizens who are being persecuted because of their race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. The government also gives consideration to people who are in real danger of rape, mutilation, or murder from government or criminal actors within their country.

People may apply for asylum inside the United States or at a port of entry. Asylum seekers already in the United States, legally or not, must apply within one year of their arrival to be eligible.

Who is Granted Asylum?

beth0302-Asylum-SeekersAccording to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the number of people granted asylum peaked at just over 39,000 in 2001. Since then, the number has settled in the low to mid 20,000s annually.

Between 2008 and 2013, roughly one-quarter of all individuals granted asylum were from the People’s Republic of China, more than any other country. In 2013, the top five nationalities of asylees were China, Egypt, Syria, Iran, and Venezuela, and accounted for sixty percent of all asylees.

Asylum applications surged to more than 108,000 in 2014, more than double the number filed in 2010. A December 2015 Washington Times report attributed the spike to illegal immigrants from Central America and their discovery of the asylum process.

Current Controversies

Fraud—The Government Accountability Office released a report last December that concluded DHS officials have limited capabilities to detect fraudulent asylum applications. The report quickly became a political flash point, with Republicans in Congress claiming the Obama administration is “rubberstamping” asylum applications of illegal immigrants who make a claim after getting caught at the border, and that it is too easy to game the system.

A 1996 immigration reform bill expanded the definition of political refugees to include people forced to abort a child or undergo sterilization, or who reasonably fear these procedures, as a result of coercive population control measures in their home country. This change in law sparked the steady rise in Chinese asylum seekers, and also spawned an increase in fraudulent asylum applications through stories fabricated by shady lawyers and misrepresentation of religious beliefs to strengthen their cases.


“The immigration system is like a colander in which there are many holes, yet all our leaders appear to be willing to do is partially plug just one of many holes in a system that has profound national security implications.” – Michael Cutler


Vulnerability—Michael Cutler, a former INS Special Agent wrote in The Daily Caller in 2015 that,

“the process by which applications for visas and various immigration benefits are adjudicated lacks even a modicum of integrity. The immigration system is like a colander in which there are many holes, yet all our leaders appear to be willing to do is partially plug just one of many holes in a system that has profound national security implications.”

Asylum and other immigration benefits offer hope to the hopeless. They also open doors to those who would do us harm.

The once overlapping circles of freedom and security are moving ever farther apart.

If you had to choose, which would it be, and why?

 


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