Immigrants to the United States may seek and obtain asylum for political or religious persecution. Even though this is a basic tenet of the immigration system, detainees in El Paso, Texas, have reportedly been held in immigration detention centers for long periods of time, even though federal officials have discovered that those people have legitimate asylum claims. An immigration activist inside the detention facility says that dozens of people – perhaps as many as 60 – have been told that they likely have legitimate asylum claims. In most cases, those people are released pending the outcome of the asylum cases. However, these victims appear to be stuck in the detention centers even though their claims are being processed, which violates existing rules.
The activist claims that he intentionally got arrested so he could be committed to the immigration detention center where the asylum-seeking detainees are reportedly housed. He is a member of the activist group known as the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, which works to expose abuse within the American immigration system. The group has not only identified problems in these detention centers, but it has also coordinated vigils to protest the millions of deportations that have occurred since President Obama took office.
This is not the first time the group has infiltrated detention centers; a 2012 subgroup was arrested and its members detained in a Florida facility. NIYA organizers uncovered hundreds of cases of abuse in the Broward Detention Center, which allowed scores of detainees to be released from the detention facility. The activist in Texas hopes that his influence will have the same impact on the Texas immigrants who are seeking asylum. Statistical evidence shows that those detained at the El Paso facility are less likely to have their asylum claims granted when compared to immigrants in other states.
Even though many people do have credible asylum claims, those who abuse the system may be ruining it for everyone. Victims of true political oppression deserve the opportunity to seek asylum in the United States. A qualified immigration attorney can serve as a powerful advocate for such victims, helping them learn more about their rights and improve their chances of staying in America.
Source: Fox News Latino, "No Reason To Keep Asylum Applicants Behind Bars So Let Them Go, Immigrant Detainee Says" Elizabeth Llorente, Dec. 10, 2013