As we are becoming more and more globalized, migration is also becoming more and more widespread. Nowadays, people decide to move to another country for various reasons. Most pursue legal migration by applying for a visa, while others do not have the chance to go through lengthy processes and have to leave their home country as soon as possible. These are called asylum seekers.

Each country treats asylum seekers differently based on their law. In this article, we will discuss asylum seeker rights and challenges in the United States. We will see what Medical, legal, and social services are available to them. There are also some support organizations that help them overcome some of the challenges they are facing.

Enjoy a 30-minute free consultation with an experienced lawyer in Orange, California. Call for more information.

Who Is an Asylum Seeker?

‘Asylum seeker’ is a term used to refer to a person who has fled his/her home country and is seeking protection in another country. Under international law, any individual has the right to protect himself by seeking asylum in another country.

There are also domestic laws in each country regarding asylum seekers, their rights, and protection. So, upon their arrival in a foreign country, an asylum seeker has to go through a process to prove he is in need of protection.

Asylum Seekers Flee Their Country for Various Reasons

Here are some of the common (and acceptable) reasons that cause individuals to cross international borders to flee their home country.

  • Political Persecution or Threats

Most asylum seekers escape their country because the ruling government is persecuting or threatening them due to their different political or religious beliefs. This can also happen if a person participates in activities or social groups that are considered undesirable by the authorities.

  • War

Any form of armed conflict or war can make it impossible for civilians to continue their normal lives in their city or country. The destruction of buildings and infrastructure, lack of security and protection, lack of basic services, etc., mean that many people have to move to other countries, mostly neighboring countries. 

During the recent conflicts, a lot of Ukrainians, Afghans, and Palestinians have left their homes to seek protection in other countries.

  • Religious and Ethnic Persecution

In any country, there are some ethnic and religious minority groups that should be able to practice their faith and maintain their cultural identity and distinction. However, some governments cannot tolerate such freedom and restrict minorities by violence or discrimination. This would lead to individuals leaving their country to escape persecution based on their religious beliefs or ethnicity.

  • Human Rights Abuses

In countries where human rights and freedom of speech are violated systematically, some individuals start protesting against these violations. Many of these people face forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, torture, and other punishments and threats for advocating for human rights. Eventually, some of them have to escape their country to avoid such unfair consequences.

  • Gender-Based and Sexual Orientation Persecution

In more traditional cultures, there might be gender discrimination and domestic abuse that violates women’s rights. Moreover, members of the LGBTQ community may face problems such as forced marriages or persecution due to their gender identity. So, this will lead to a lot of people fleeing their country in the hope of finding peace and protection in a foreign land.

To sum up, the reasons for asylum seekers to apply for protection in another country might include more than one of the above-mentioned conditions. Each asylum seeker’s case is unique and complicated. So, it needs to be considered thoroughly by the host country officials to see if it is qualified.

Asylum Seeker Rights and Protections in the United States

There are certain legal rights and protections afforded to asylum seekers based on domestic laws in the U.S. Here, we will discuss some of their main rights.

  • Apply for Asylum

Any individual can seek asylum at the port of entry or apply for asylum while in the US, no matter what their immigration status is.

  • Non-Refoulement Principle

According to the non-refoulement principle, asylum seekers who are going to face persecution or harm in their country are protected from being deported or expelled from the US.

  • Legal Representation

Asylum seekers can hire an attorney to assist and represent them throughout the asylum application process. There are even some organizations and private immigration lawyers that offer low-cost or pro bono legal services to them. However, the government is not responsible for providing any legal representation for asylum seekers.

Hire an accomplished immigration attorney to guide you in every step of your asylum application process. Call to schedule an appointment.

  • Fair Hearing

Any asylum seeker has the right to present his/her case and provide testimony and evidence to support their case before an immigration judge or an asylum officer. This impartial and fair hearing considers their claim for asylum and protection.

  • Confidentiality

All the information that is presented throughout the application process as well as the asylum application itself remains confidential.

  • Asylum Clock

As the asylum seeker screening process and application may take a long time, applicants are protected from being removed. ‘Asylum clock’ or ‘protection from removal’ is the right that protects asylum seekers from being deported while the asylum application is under consideration.

  • Work Authorization

While the asylum application is pending, the asylum seeker can apply for an employment authorization document (EAD). This gives them legal permission to work in the U.S. while waiting for their asylum case result. However, only those who have filed their application on time are eligible for an EAD.

  • Access to Healthcare and Social Services

Except for the right to legal services, based on local regulations in each state, asylum seekers may also have access to all or some of the services below.

  • Medical Care: There are various programs that offer medical care and vaccinations to asylum seekers. Besides, Medicaid (public health insurance) is available for them in some states that help them with medical emergencies. In addition, they can get free or low-cost medical services with the help of some non-profit organizations, clinics, and community health centers.
  • Housing Assistance: Some states with more available resources offer housing assistance to asylum seekers. These programs aim to provide temporary shelter, transitional housing, and other kinds of support for their accommodation.
  • Training Programs: There may be some vocational training and even English language learning programs available for asylum seekers. These programs that are offered by community colleges, non-profit organizations, and adult education centers, help them to become ready for employment in the US.

In addition to these programs, some organizations offer assistance that is specifically designed for each asylum seeker. For example, mental health support, legal assistance, counseling, etc.

Therefore, depending on the location and each program’s requirements, asylum seekers can benefit from various medical and social services. To find out what programs are available in a certain area, consulting with an immigration lawyer or local organizations is necessary.

Asylum Seekers Challenges in the U.S.

Any form of immigration is challenging, especially when it happens suddenly and without much planning, like seeking asylum. However, knowing what is waiting for you in the host country makes you more mentally prepared, and you can come up with some ways to overcome some of the challenges.

Here are the main challenges asylum seekers in the U.S. often face.

  • Family Separation

Those who arrive at the borders with their family to seek protection might be placed in different detention facilities while their case is pending. This can lead to separation of family members for some time.

  • Complicated Application Process

Filing an asylum application is a lengthy and complex process during which the applicant must attend interviews and hearings, gather evidence and documentation, etc. Sometimes, for different reasons, there are delays in the process that can make it last for months or years.

  • Difficulty in Accessing Legal Services

Hiring an attorney to guide and represent you during the asylum application process can be costly. So, for those who cannot afford one, dealing with the complex legal procedures and documentation, and presenting their case effectively will be a big challenge. However, they can find some programs that can assist them with this problem (see the section below).

  • Language Barrier

Most asylum seekers cannot communicate clearly and effectively in English. This means they will have a lower chance of navigating the legal procedures successfully and understanding their rights and options.

  • Substandard Living Conditions

Thousands of asylum seekers come to the US border every year. So, the government cannot afford to create high-standard housing and living conditions for all of them. Consequently, those with limited financial resources usually have to reside in overcrowded places while their application is processed.

  • Inadequate Healthcare Services

Although there are numerous programs to help asylum seekers with their health issues, still healthcare can be costly for them. Especially when it comes to mental health services.

  • Limited Employment and Education Opportunities

Obtaining an EAD and finding a job can be tough and time-consuming, particularly for those with language problems. As a result, asylum seekers experience financial instability that makes it difficult for them to support themselves and their families.

In addition, their kids usually have a lot of challenges accessing education which is typically caused by their lack of documentation and language abilities.

Besides all these, in some communities, asylum seekers suffer from discrimination and stigmatization which can make the whole process intolerable for them. Besides, they need to manage the distressing emotions and anxiety due to instability, uncertainty, and fear of deportation.

Therefore, getting help from support organizations and legal counseling seem necessary for making the situation easier and the processing time shorter. 

Get help from an immigration lawyer in California to overcome some of these challenges more easily and avoid delays in the application process.

Support Organizations for Asylum Seekers

Fortunately, there are various support organizations and NGOs for asylum seekers across the country. We have tried to categorize some of the most important ones here based on the services and supports they offer. Please note that some of these organizations provide services in different categories.

You should visit their websites to see their full services in every location and requirements.

Low-Cost Legal Services for Asylum Seekers

Access pro bono and low-cost legal services, such as representations and counseling, through

Access Healthcare Assistance

The following organizations provide resources, support, information, and healthcare services for asylum seekers.

Training and Education Services for Asylum Seekers

Get help to access language classes, educational programs, and vocational training.

Temporary Shelter and Other Housing Services

Find better shelters and improve your living conditions with the help of the organizations below.

Consult with an Immigration Attorney in Orange, CA

As we have discussed in this article, there are both benefits and challenges on the way of asylum seekers in the United States. Besides, the interview process, the documentation requirements, and other steps of the application can be confusing, especially for a newcomer who is not familiar with not only the English language but also the immigration laws and regulations in each state.

So, the Law Office of Tuan Le is here to provide legal assistance to asylum seekers in Orange, California. You can even have a free consultation with our accomplished immigration lawyer. Call  714-877-5840 for more information.

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