The United States has a long history of offering refuge to those fleeing different levels of persecution and danger in their home countries. Just like everyone else in the US, Asylees in the US have their rights and are protected by US laws.
Asylum seeker’s rights in the USA are enshrined in both domestic and international law, providing a framework to protect individuals seeking safety and freedom from persecution. In this article, we will explore what asylum is, the rights of asylum seekers in the USA, and the process they go through to seek protection.
What Is Asylum?
Asylum is a legal status granted by a country to individuals who have fled their home countries due to a well-founded fear of persecution. This persecution can be based on one’s:
- Race: This has to be with discrimination and violence against someone because of their race.
- Religion: If you face persecution because of your religious beliefs or practices.
- Nationality: For people who face persecution because of their nationality or ethnicity.
- Political opinion: When you face threats or violence due to your differing political opinions.
- Membership in a particular social group: For people who face persecution based on characteristics such as gender, sexual orientation, or membership in a specific social group.
Asylum legal framework in the US
Asylum seeker rights are primarily protected by international treaties and domestic laws, including:
- The United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention: This international treaty defines who is a refugee and sets the obligations of countries to protect them.
- The United States Refugee Act of 1980: This domestic legislation established the framework for the U.S. asylum system, incorporating the principles of the Refugee Convention.
Rights of asylum seekers in the USA
The Right to Seek Asylum
If you are an asylum seeker in the USA, you have the unequivocal right to apply for asylum, regardless of your immigration status or how you entered the country. You can apply for asylum at the port of entry or while you are already in the United States.
Protection from deportation
Upon applying for asylum, you will be shielded from deportation until your case is fully adjudicated. This safeguard prevents you from being returned to a life-threatening situation while awaiting a decision on your claim of persecution.
Access to legal representation
As an Asylum seeker, you have the right to retain legal counsel to assist you through the asylum process. If you cannot afford an attorney, you will be eligible for pro bono legal assistance provided by various organizations dedicated to immigrant rights.
Right to a fair hearing
As an Asylum seeker in the US, you have the right to a fair and full hearing before an immigration judge. During this process, you can present evidence, witnesses, and testimony to support your asylum claim.
Protection for vulnerable groups
If you are an unaccompanied minor and survivor of domestic violence or human trafficking, the United States understands that you are very vulnerable therefore, they have specialized protections in place to address your unique needs and ensure your rights are upheld.
Freedom from detention
While your asylum claim is pending, you may qualify for release from detention if you can demonstrate that you pose neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community.
Asylum application process in the United States
Filing the application
To apply for asylum, you must complete and submit Form I-589, known as the Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal, within one year of your arrival in the United States.
Interview with an asylum officer
After your application, you will undergo an interview with an asylum officer who will assess the credibility of your claim and determine whether you have a well-founded fear of persecution.
Immigration court hearing
In cases where the asylum officer denies you the claim, you have the right to request a hearing before an immigration judge. This will allow you to present your case in greater detail, provide additional evidence, and testify under oath.
If the immigration judge denies the asylum claim, you may have the option to appeal the decision. This stage of the process will further extend the time it takes to reach a final resolution.
Asylum practice in the United States reflects the nation’s commitment to providing refuge for those fleeing persecution.
Although the process can be tedious, asylum seeker rights are integral to safeguarding the well-being of individuals escaping danger and oppression.
If you are facing any form of persecution in your home country due to your religious belief, sexual orientation, or political stand, the US is here to protect and offer you the life that has been taken away from you.
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