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A case for why the U.S. asylum process must be overhauled

A recent Buzzfeed article entitled, "The U.S. Asylum System is Completely Overwhelmed," highlights the many problems facing what critics charge is an outdated and woefully inadequate part of the U.S. immigration system. In recent years, individuals fleeing the gang and drug violence that has ravaged many Central America countries and Mexico have flooded across U.S. borders. In an effort to stay in the U.S. and avoid deportation back to what for many may be a certain death, the number of U.S. asylum cases has grown exponentially.

In January of 2012, the number of asylum cases was just 12,500. As of June, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reported that some 95,000 asylum cases were pending. Despite the significant increase in the number of persecuted and desperate individuals seeking to stay in the U.S., the number of asylum cases being processed and decided has not kept pace. Consequently, many asylum seekers are caught in limbo and those who are already in the U.S. are not allowed to legally work or collect any type of federal benefits.

With violent wars and conflicts being waged throughout the Middle East and North Africa, millions of displaced people are fleeing to Europe. As European countries struggle to take in people fleeing from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya; the U.S. has come under criticism for doing too little with regard to helping with the resettlement process.

USCIS records show that currently the U.S. has granted asylum to a total of 1,078 Syrians. This number pales in comparison to the hundreds of thousands that European countries like Germany have pledged to take in and adds legitimacy to the notion that the U.S. asylum process isn't only overwhelmed, but—bogged down in bureaucracy and red tape—also broken.

Individuals who wish to seek asylum in the U.S. are often quickly overwhelmed and discouraged by the complicated and lengthy process. An attorney who handles immigration matters can assist in filing an Application for Asylum and for Withholding Removal and provide strong legal advocacy.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "U.S. response to refugee crisis is nowhere near that of Europe," Carol J. Williams, Sept. 3, 2015

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Asylum," Sept. 10, 2015

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