Although Maria is just 13-years-old, she already suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression, reports Dr. Carol Kessler, a child psychiatrist and member of the Asylum Network at PHR. Originally from El Salvador, Maria fled to the United States after a gang member attempted to rape her and force her to join his gang.
Earlier this month, Mexico’s congress passed a resolution encouraging U.S. authorities to grant asylum to Mexican citizens fleeing the savage violence that has plagued the country over the last several years.
This week an Ohio judge awarded $15 million to Abukar Hassan Ahmed, a Somali constitutional law professor and human rights advocate, following a civil trial in which a Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) volunteer doctor delivered testimony crucial to the case.
An Ethiopian man who sought asylum in the United States had been repeatedly beaten and tortured in his home country simply for engaging in protests against the government. A young Sudanese woman who was an outspoken human rights advocate bears scars from having been burned and beaten by her torturers; she now struggles to interact with people and is afraid of enclosed spaces like subway stations.
There is a broad consensus that our immigration system is in desperate need of an overhaul. Comprised of a hopelessly complicated patchwork of laws enacted in response to events like the 1993 World Trade Center bombings and the 9/11 attacks, the immigration system creates narrow pathways for some immigrants to come to or remain in the United States, while making it almost impossibly hard for others, including many fleeing torture and persecution.