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