Asylum seekers in the U.S. are:
- Displaced people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries who are unable or unwilling to return due to fear of persecution or having been persecuted.
- From many different countries, but the families CASP offers support to at the moment are from Central America, the Caribbean, as well as East and West Africa.
- Requesting sanctuary individually and must be on U.S. soil to request asylum. Many request at a port of entry, while others are living in the U.S. undocumented, or with a VISA (tourist, work, student, etc.), and then file an asylum claim. Asylum seekers differ from refugees in this way. Refugees, generally, flee their homes and are temporarily living in refugee camps where they go through all the background checks and interviews. Then they are “accepted” into a refugee program and resettled by the U.S. State Department usually through a national NGO.
What happens (in general) to asylum seekers after they arrive in the U.S.?
- They must pass a “credible fear interview” to determine if they have a reasonable claim to asylum.
- They are detained in locked facilities for an uncertain period.
- They may be released if they have relatives or friends (somewhere in the U.S. to support them or an organization such as CASP).
- On release, and after they’ve filed their claim, they are scheduled for asylum hearings in immigration court.
- 150 days after filing their asylum claim, they can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD, work permit).
- The process takes at least a few years, more often between 5 and 10 years, resulting in either asylum or denial.
- If asylum is denied, the asylum-seeker gets two appeals before deportation.
How does CASP help asylum seekers in this process?
- Generally, CASP finds host homes for asylum-seeking individuals and families who have no one else to take them in. During COVID-19, we have been renting apartments for those for whom we cannot find housing.
- CASP offers basic needs such as food, clothing, and transportation through a network of volunteers and community members.
- CASP offers a living and food stipend, as well as a health insurance plan and covers medical care.
- CASP assists them in finding legal aid to pursue their asylum claims in immigration court.
- Assists with their cases as their lawyers might need and applies for EAD with the guidance of their lawyers.
- CASP accompanies asylum seekers as they successfully resettle in our community. Three of CASP’s tools are a curriculum map for ESL teachers, a volunteer resource guide, and trainings for community members.