Monday, June 15, 2009

Ordeals in Seeking Asylum

"You can't stop the human spirit and you certainly can't stop someone when they are in fear for their life. If there is a border and it's an artificial border, they are going to find a way." -- Deirdre Gilblin, Asylum Attorney

What is asylum? "In layman's terms, it's basically when people flee to the United States for human rights violations and they seek sanctuary here and they ask for that sanctuary from our immigration system. If they are granted asylum, they are allowed to stay in the U.S. indefinitely and eventually get their green card and apply for U.S. citizenship," explains another attorney, Lisa Laurel Weinberg, at the Community Legal Services and Counseling Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Attorneys there say that in recent years, asylum seekers have been required to provide more proof of the risks they face back home in order to win their case.

According to the U.S. government, asylum is a form of protection granted to individuals who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

Recently, there has been a rise of asylym cases for gay and lesbian individuals, as well as for victims of domestic abuse, or genital mutilation.

This vlog also tells the story of John, a gay man from Jamaica, who says he couldn't sleep anymore and couldn't walk to work, for fear of being attacked because of hatred for his sexual orientation.

This report for VOA by Lisa Schlein details how more and more people are seeking asylum in industrialized countries.