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The gains and losses in applying for asylum

Many people in Reading recognize that the U.S. immigration system is more than just economic and family immigrants. The system also helps protect people against persecution in their home countries by granting people asylum. The U.S. government helps people fleeing their homes because of persecution based on one of a handful different characteristics.

So, for many people, the word "asylum" may conjure up an immigrant sitting in an interview with an asylum officer, recounting heart-breaking and gut-wrenching stories of persecution. He or she will show the officer evidence that supports what he or she is saying. The officer will grant the asylum request based on the clear case of persecution based on a series of characteristics.

The problem with that image, however, is that many people will lie on their applications and when speaking with officers. A recent story by The New York Times reported on people filing asylum on behalf of Chinese people, some of whom will do whatever it takes to get asylum.

When people lie in asylum cases, however, they put honest asylum seekers at risk for extra scrutiny. For Chinese applicants, that scrutiny has already sstarted. The New York City area has one of the lowest rates of approval for Chinese nationals applying for asylum. Now, for honest applicants, there is the fear that they will be rejected just because they are Chinese nationals. 

The thing is, many people within the immigration field don't feel particularly bad about lying on an asylum application. For some, the fact that a person made it to the U.S. should be enough to warrant doing whatever it takes to get a work permit and an eventual green card.

Source: The New York Times, "Asylum Fraud in Chinatown: An Industry of Lies," Kir Semple, Joseph Goldstein and Jeffrey E. Singer, Feb. 22, 2014

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