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We know the asylum process can be confusing to understand–it’s complicated. That’s why we answered your most frequently asked questions and made space for you to ask us anything you’d like below, as well. 

Most asylum seekers arrive in the US with valid visas. Once asylum seekers complete and submit their asylum applications to the US government, they have made their presence known to the government and can continue to stay in the US past their visa expiration date. However, asylum seekers are still unable to work and ineligible for government services until they receive their work permit which can take ~2 years. 

If asylum seekers arrive in the U.S. without a visa and declare they are afraid to return home, they are detained by immigration officials and given a ‘credible fear’ interview. Some remain in detention, while others are paroled or bonded out often because they can show they will live with family or community sponsors, like DASH Network.

The primary nationalities we see represented among DFW asylum seekers include Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Egypt, Cameroon, Pakistan, Central America, Burundi, and elsewhere from around the world. As conflicts from around the world change, we see changes in the representation of these nationalities. 

National statistics show that high numbers also come from China, Haiti, and Venezuela.

In the large majority of cases, asylum seekers are forced to flee their homes suddenly and in-secret. Some asylum seekers go into hiding while they try to make a plan for their next move, often working to obtain a visa to leave the country. Some asylum seekers we have spoken to were able to use false identification, bribery or smugglers to leave the country without the government finding out. All of these are dangerous options. 

As the Kenyan poet Warsan Shire puts it in his poem “Home”:  

“You have to understand,

no one puts their children in a boat

unless the water is safer than the land.

 

who would choose to spend days 

and nights in the stomach of a truck

unless the miles travelled

meant something more than journey.” 

 

Most asylum seekers are forced to leave without saying goodbye to beloved friends and family because of the immediate danger they are in.

As Freedom House explains, “People who have the option of relocating within their own country are not eligible for asylum. (Asylum seekers) are often activists whose governments want to stop them from advocating for democratic change and human rights. There is nowhere (they) can safely go in their countries because of this1.”

Asylum seekers arrive in the US by air, boat, or on foot. Most are able to obtain US visas (such as student or visitor visas) and fly to the US. Some asylum seekers have family or friends in the US they can contact for help, but many have no idea what to do next or where to go.

Some asylum seekers cannot secure a visa before they are forced to flee their country. In these instances, they often travel to South American countries and make the treacherous journey to reach the southern US border to then ask for asylum. We currently have residents that have entered the US both ways.

MPI estimates that there are ~400,000 people seeking asylum in the United States and ~59,000+ of those seeking asylum are in Texas (2018 data). Some asylum seekers come here with the contact of a relative, and/or money to support themselves during the time they are without a work permit and/or are learning English. We want to ensure all people seeking asylum have support and feel the all encompassing love of Christ.

Both refugees and asylum seekers meet the American Immigration Council‘s definition of a refugee: A person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality because of persecution… on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

However, there are several differences between these groups including arrival method, time since persecution and services received upon U.S. arrival. Our focus is on addressing the outright lack of services provided for asylum seekers, coupled with the legal inability to work for several years.  Please visit this page for a more complete summary

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