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Fighting Myths About Asylum Seekers

Those fleeing Afghanistan, Cuba, Haiti, or Cameroon, if they wish to seek asylum in the United States, must apply for such. Even though the conditions in these countries (& others) are well documented, our government still makes each individual prove they were in fact persecuted.

Applicants are looked at suspiciously. We implicitly make the assumption they are who they hate: some mythical government spies trying to creep in, not one of the many oppressed citizens trying to avoid false arrest, torture or death back home. Often times, voluminous documentation is required to support their personal testimony about what happened to them. And I am sure you can guess how many people sneaking out of the country to escape an oppressive government first stop at the police station, courthouse, bank, government office, and/or school to ask, "May I please have proof you tortured, discriminated against, and denied human rights to me?"

There are so many roadblocks to an asylum seeker gaining authorization to accept employment, the timing being but one. They come here fleeing persecution. Yet, instead of lovingly offering them food, shelter, medical care, and the opportunity to create a better life for themselves, we put up so much red tape and vilify them as having "stolen our jobs. " This doesn't match our values.

While not yet a full citizen, by virtue of filing a complete asylum application, those fleeing persecution have a right to remain in the United States at least until they receive a decision on their asylum application, which typically takes 5 - 7 years. It's a long, multi-stepped process during which they are investigated by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and an individual asylum office.

Spread the word, help fight misinformation about asylum seekers. We at Hannibal Legal do not advocate for nor participate in loud, unproductive, cable news style political arguments. But next time, perhaps at Thanksgiving dinner, a kind hearted but misinformed friend or relative claims asylum seekers "snuck in the country," "are here illegally," or "have more rights than us," lovingly correct them.

Blog posts are not legal advice nor representation. You may wish to consult an attorney of your choosing before making any decisions about your legal issues.

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