Individuals applying for asylum in Pennsylvania must meet certain burdens established by statute and enforced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The general rule is that any alien may apply for asylum as long as he or she is physically present in the U.S. That rule is subject to exceptions in some cases for individuals who fail to apply within one year of arrival, who have been previously denied asylum or who may be removed to a safe third country. There are further exceptions based on the prior conduct, perceived danger or other attributes of the applicant.
There are many people in Lancaster and across Pennsylvania who come to this country each year in search of a safer life. These people flee persecution in their home countries with the hope that they will be able to start over in the U.S. For these people, asylum is often their best chance of being protected from their own governments.
There isn't technology available yet that can police our thoughts, but that doesn't prevent many governments around the world from jailing, torturing or killing people because of what they believe. Because of his political opinions (or perceived political opinions), a 17-year-old Egyptian boy spent a week in jail. Now, he is in the United States and has applied for asylum in an effort to prevent being sent back to Egypt and, possibly, jail.
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.
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.
Many people in Philadelphia are proud of the fact that the United States remains a choice destination for people fleeing violence and carnage in their own countries. Not only is our country an attractive destination, but it also does a lot to protect people of the violence they faced in their home countries, in part through the asylum program. As long as someone has a well-founded fear of persecution based on membership to a specific social group, race, religion, political opinion or nationality, he or she can ostensibly apply for asylum in Philadelphia.