Asylum in the United States

Each year, people from all over the world come to the United States in search of protection because they have experienced oppression or fear that they will suffer oppression due to religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group.

There is no limit placed on the number of immigrants who can receive asylum in the US. Anyone can apply for asylum regardless of their immigration status. However, he/she must ask for asylum at their port of entry or apply within one year of coming to the United States.

In order to apply, one must file an I-589 form with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). A case is conducted, including taking biometrics, as well as an interview with an Asylum Officer. In some cases, the officer will refer this case to a hearing with an Immigration Judge. During the hearing, applicants must present physical evidence, provide witnesses and document conditions in their home country to prove they were persecuted at home or would be if they went back. The Immigration Judge will make the decision whether or not to grant asylum. Once asylum is granted, the person(s) can live and work in the United States for the remainder of their lives. After one year of being in “Asylee Status,” he/she can submit an application for a Green Card and ultimately United States citizenship.

A few months back, one of the immigration headlines making internet news was a German couple who sought asylum for themselves and their seven children. They feared prosecution from the German government for not wanting to send their kids to government approved schools. The couple wanted to Home School all of their children. However, they feared they would lose custody and be put in prison for making the choice to home school. In 2008, the family fled Germany for Tennessee and applied for asylum in the US. A Tennessee judge did initially grant them asylum but an Appeals Court overturned the ruling. The couple continued to fight for an asylum with the help of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). More than 127,000 people signed an online petition asking the government to grant the family asylum. The US Supreme Court declined to hear their appeal in the case but US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) granted “indefinite deferred action” status to the family. However, the deferred status enabling the family to stay in the US could be revoked, but the family does not believe they will be deported for the remainder of President Obama’s term in office.

Contributed by Melodie Hagner-Salava

Source of Information:
cnn.com, 3/3/14, News Article: Homeschooling family loses asylum appeal

huffingtonpost.com, 3/4/14, News Article: German Home-School Family Won’t Be Deported

bbc.com, 3/5/14, News Article: German home-school family will not be deported from US