Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
RAICES provides legal services to asylum-seekers that may be eligible to obtain relief under several humanitarian bases. The primary claim for asylum could be on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Individuals who have been persecuted or who have a credible fear of persecution and who are unable or unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of their country of origin can apply for asylum protection from the U.S. government.
Similar to applicants who apply for refugee status, applicants for asylum status are individuals who are already in the U.S., whether they have entered by using a visa or through illegal means. In recent years, many asylum-seekers who pose no threat to safety have been unnecessarily detained. A study by Physicians for Human Rights and The Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture held in New York, Newark, and Pennsylvania found that asylum seekers in detention facilities who ultimately were granted asylum spent an average of ten months in jail-like facilities. About 13,800 out of 230,000 immigrant detainees in 2003 were asylum-seekers. The rise of detained immigrants in the last few years suggests that many more asylum-seekers are detained today.
RAICES offers competent representation of asylum applicants. An initial screening of potential beneficiaries identifies individuals that are able to claim asylum based on one of the five protected grounds. To the best of our capacity, we strive to maintain relationships with our clients by keeping track of documents and corroborating evidence in order to prove the claim of persecution. Once granted, asylum status enables our clients to obtain work authorization and can apply to become a permanent resident within one year of being approved. We have worked with many unaccompanied children from Mexico and Central America who have been victims of gang violence and/or domestic violence in their native countries. Among our clients from East Africa, the men have often suffered from clan discrimination, political persecution, and religious persecution.