A man who crossed a U.S. border more than 25 years ago has been granted legal status protection. He was reportedly arrested in May of last year for public drunkenness. The man said he used to live in Mexico but fled circumstances there when he was unable to find gainful employment to sustain himself. He has now been granted defensive asylum, which is a protective status sometimes given to political refugees in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, who arrive in the United States without their paperwork in order.
Of more than 120,000 immigrants who applied for defensive asylums in 2017, only 6,995 were granted protection. Those who were, like the 64-year-old man mentioned here, are likely relieved they are no longer targeted for deportation. As opposed to defensive asylums, which are processed by the U.S. Department of Justice, affirmative asylums are granted through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Affirmative asylums are those granted to applicants who possessed proper documentation when they entered the United States. Both processes can be quite time-consuming. In fact, some people wait years for their petitions to be granted or denied. Many of those currently awaiting full process of their cases are being held in immigration detention centers throughout the United States.
U.S. immigration law is a federal matter although various cities have categorized themselves as sanctuaries for immigrants, thus barring law enforcement from arresting people based solely on their legal statuses. Pennsylvania immigrants will want to keep in mind that there is no official established legal meaning of a sanctuary city and that local governments acting under such statuses are asserting autonomy, which is not recognized by the federal government. Those seeking affirmative or defensive asylum may want to rely on experienced legal support to avoid obstacles in their application processes.