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Facts on Asylum

asylum seekers

For further information on Physicians for Human Rights' (PHR) positions on various aspects of U.S. asylum, immigration detention, and more, the following PDF files are available to download and print.

Asylum and Other Relief for Immigrant Victims of Violence and Persecution

The United States is the largest recipient of asylum claims among industrialized nations. Victims of persecution and torture who come to the United States may apply for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the UN Convention against Torture (CAT) in order to remain in the U.S. legally and avoid removal to countries where they may be harmed.

In addition, U.S. law provides several forms of immigration relief for immigrants in the U.S. who have been victims of crime and human trafficking, and or unaccompanied children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by their parents.

>> Read the fact sheet. (pdf)


The One-Year Bar to Asylum

The “one-year bar” requires asylum seekers to apply within one year of entering the U.S. The bar adds an arbitrary, ineffective, and unnecessary roadblock to the already-complicated asylum process and prevents people with legitimate asylum claims from receiving protection. Indeed, a denial of asylum based on the one-year bar can mean death for those who are deported back to their countries.

>> Read the fact sheet. (pdf)


The Refugee Protection Act of 2011

The United States has long been a world leader in protecting victims of persecution and torture around the world. Every year, thousands of people who want nothing more than to live in peace are forced to flee their countries in order to save their lives. Those who are fortunate enough to reach the U.S. can apply for asylum and the opportunity to enjoy the basic human rights to health, safety, and dignity.

Recently, however, the U.S. has shifted its energy from ensuring asylum for the victims of the most serious forms of persecution and torture, to detaining asylum seekers and creating arbitrary procedural hurdles that have prevented tens of thousands of refugees from obtaining asylum. The Refugee Protection Act of 2011 (RPA) is a vital piece of legislation that would remedy these problems while protecting refugees, reducing costs, and helping to restore the moral standing of the United States as a guardian of human rights around the world.

>> Read the fact sheet. (pdf)


SB 1070: The Arizona "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act"

On April 23, 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. This bill, which became widely known as SB 1070 after its introduction in the Arizona State Senate, requires law enforcement offiers in Arizona to attempt to determine the immigration status of anyone whom they reasonably suspect to be in the U.S. illegally, during a lawful stop, detention, or arrest. Because of the vague wording of the law, "reasonable suspicion" leaves the door wide open for racial profiling.

>> Read the fact sheet. (pdf)


The Rights of Immigrants in Detention

Deprived of freedom of movement, uncertain of their future right to live and work in the country we all share, people in immigration detention are among the most powerless individuals in America.

Many of the detained are refugees, people with American citizen families and children, green card holders, and others with a strong claim to being part of our communities. Our national commitment to transparency, democracy, and respect for human rights demands that we take particular care to treat these detainees with compassion—to show the world that security and humanity need not be at odds.

Unfortunately, people’s most fundamental rights are at risk in the U.S. immigration detention system.

>> Read the fact sheet. (pdf)


Detention Alternatives

U.S. law offers safe haven and legal immigration status to noncitizens who have experienced or are likely to experience persecution, torture, domestic violence, and other treatment that violates human rights.

However, these asylum seekers and torture survivors are particularly likely to find themselves subject to mandatory detention while awaiting resolution of their cases. Any noncitizen stopped with invalid or missing documents while trying to enter the U.S. must be detained according to law.

>> Read the fact sheet. (pdf)