Fwd: Asylum seekers jailed
- ---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kara Smith, UUSC <c+uusc@...>
Date: Tue, May 7, 2013 at 4:00 AM
Subject: Asylum seekers jailed
Everyone who enters the United States seeking asylum is automatically put into jail. Hard to believe, right? You may be shocked to learn this, as I was. But it’s true.
All asylum seekers — even people who have committed no crime and are simply fleeing violence — are currently put into detention facilities upon arrival in the United States, until they are granted a “credible fear” interview with a government official. Some are jailed for weeks or months until this interview, which determines if they can legally request asylum. Even after the interview, they may still be kept imprisoned while waiting for a resolution of their request for asylum! The jailing of asylum seekers violates human rights and our deepest values. Take action now to defend asylum seekers.
In the next 48 hours, we have a unique and rare opportunity to change the system. The new comprehensive immigration reform bill includes significant and much-needed protections for refugees, asylum seekers, and torture survivors.
At 9:30 a.m. on May 9, the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy, is slated to take up consideration of the immigration bill. Contact Senator Leahy today.
The legislation as it is currently written would do the following:
- Discourage the detention of torture survivors
- Ensure that detainees are interviewed within five days of detention, allowing them to explain their story and request asylum
- Increase oversight of detention facilities to curb abuses
- Require the establishment of community alternatives to detention programs
We have a long way to go before this bill is passed into law. Opponents will try to weaken these improvements to the asylum process or remove them from the bill entirely! It’s just plain cruel.
Contact Senator Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, now to ensure that the new immigration bill protects — rather than punishes — asylum seekers. Senator Leahy may not be your senator, but he is a human rights leader and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Let him know that he has support to stand firm against any attempts to remove or weaken language in the bill that would protect asylum seekers.
The current asylum policy and practice is morally abhorrent. Yohannes, a torture survivor from Eritrea, told us his story: He came to the United States in 2009, seeking asylum. He was put into jail, supposedly to await an interview. After eight difficult weeks, Yohannes took the dramatic step of going on a hunger strike, which finally got the attention of immigration officials. Only then did he receive his interview. But it didn’t end there — Yohannes was still kept in jail for many weeks after his interview. By the time he was released, he’d spent more than six months in prison, without having committed any crime!
Instead of opening the golden door of opportunity and healing, we surround asylum seekers with metal bars and treat them as criminals, traumatizing them further. Being intimidated and indefinitely jailed would be terrifying to anyone — but when you are a torture survivor fleeing to the United States for safety, this treatment can be especially traumatic.
Contact Senator Leahy today and let him know that you support protections for asylum seekers.
Associate for Grassroots Mobilization
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
“The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.”
--Wade Davis, anthropologist and ethnobotanist