Difficulties of the Asylum Process

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A section of the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico stretches across a valley in the Sonoran Desert near La Rumorosa, Mexico. PHOTO: MIKE DUBOSE, UM NEWS

Over the past two years, NY JFON Asylum Attorney Alexis Duecker has made numerous visits to an asylum shelter in Nogales, Mexico. At this asylum shelter, which primarily houses families and single women with children, Alexis has provided pro bono legal services to help these women and families submit asylum declarations for consideration by the U.S. government. While declaring asylum has never been simple and the laws have been subject to the vagaries of presidential administrations, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the already massive backlog of asylum cases waiting to be heard.

The severity of the backlog is illustrated by the fact that in the two years that Alexis has been representing asylum seekers in Nogales, only one case has been successfully granted asylum. In a recently published article, Alexis rejects the general notion that the U.S. openly grants asylum to anyone who asks. Alexis describes the rigorous conditions that asylum seekers must meet in order to be granted asylum. Asylum seekers must have “a well-founded fear of future persecution” on the basis of either their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a persecuted social group. These parameters exclude victims of economic hardship and domestic violence, two factors that nonetheless force thousands to flee their countries of origin every year.

Despite the frustrations of the asylum process, there has been recent relief. Steadily, more of Alexis’ clients are being scheduled for hearings. Additionally, other charitable organizations such as Church World Services (CWS) continue to ensure that refugees have stable transitions and that their needs are met. By partnering together, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), Church World Services (CWS), and New York Justice For Our Neighbors (NY JFON) are ensuring that those who seek safety and security by claiming asylum are provided with the legal and social services they need.

Alexis works with NY JFON through an asylum attorney grant from United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and case management referral from Church World Services (CWS). Click here to read the full article.

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