Asylum is a special legal privilege the government may grant to certain people who intend to stay in Pennsylvania or another part of the U.S. for a prolonged period because they fear to return to their country of residence due to the possibility of persecution or torture due to their race, nationality, religion, political opinion or connection with a social group. There are two basic processes for being granted asylum depending on the person's present condition.
The conflict in Syria has been raging for over three years, leaving over 100,000 people killed and millions displaced within Syria. Millions more people have been driven from the country, forced to seek refuge and asylum in neighboring countries. While many hope to one day return to Syria, it is unlikely that they will be able to make the move home any time soon. Others have resigned themselves to seeking a more permanent solution to the civil war by looking to permanently resettle abroad.
While Congress continues to debate the benefits of the immigration program and some people talk about whether we should allow anyone into the country, there is one undeniably positive part of the American immigration system: asylum. Granting individuals asylum provides protection from persecution and torture; it gives them a safe place to live their lives. There are many people in Lancaster who have come to the United States as asylum seekers and refugees, but first they had to go through the rigorous process of applying for asylum.
Everyone who watches the news in Reading is familiar with the conflict that is happening in Syria. The civil war has been raging for years and there is no apparent end in sight, which means that there are large numbers of Syrians who are seeking asylum abroad. Although the U.S. has been good about admitting many people from the Middle East, there have been relatively few asylum seekers from Syria. Though there has been a shift in where most refugees have come from since the U.S. first started admitting asylum seekers into the country, the majority of refugees came from Iraq and Burma in 2012.
Imagine fleeing your home country afraid that if you don't get out, you will be killed. You are targeted because of something that you really can't change or shouldn't have to change, like your political beliefs, your membership in a specific social group or your sexual orientation. Imagine finally getting out and finding your way to Lancaster. You even make it through the difficult asylum process and are given a green card. You are living happily in a safe, new home, but you notice that your neighbors and community members are suspicious of you. Unfortunately, this is a phenomenon that many asylum seekers experience when trying to settle in the United States.