In April of 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (a government agency also known as “USCIS” that decides immigration applications, including many applications for asylum and all applications for work permits) asked the public how it could do a better job. Specifically, USCIS asked for ideas about how it could make the immigration system easier to access.
The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) included a survey about these questions in last month’s member update, and about 100 ASAP members responded with ideas about how to improve the immigration system! ASAP helped translate these ASAP members’ comments and submit them to USCIS. ASAP also submitted an organizational comment to USCIS, which you can read here.
Almost all of the ASAP members who responded to USCIS said that work permits should be available more quickly to asylum seekers, and that asylum applications should be shorter and easier to complete. Here are some examples of the other things ASAP members recommended to USCIS:
- “I think the communication between immigrants and the U.S. government should improve and the USCIS online page and call centers can be great tools. I’m an asylum seeker and I’ve been longing for a better way to communicate and get updates on my pending case.”
- “There are thousands of highly professional people among the asylum seekers and immigrants who have the courage, skill and knowledge to enter the job market but they are kept either in detention centers or out of the job market until they become eligible for applying for jobs. It literally takes several months. Being a policy analyst, this seems so strange to me, because keeping these professionals out of job markets has many negative implications for the U.S itself.”
- “I think that the law should not be so tough that it denies asylum to families that flee so much violence in our country. We are families seeking a better future for our children.”
- “I think that the U.S. government should considerably increase its staff so cases can be processed on time or shorter. The staff should pay attention to the decisions that have been legally incorrect during the last four years.”
- “I think an expedited work permit would help greatly. Through employment, immigrants not only feel useful to themselves, but they are able to give back to the country that has taken them in.”
- “Significantly reduce immigration detention. Eliminate private detention facilities. Stop expedited removal and provide a fair trial. Reject public policies of exclusion based on race, religion and nationality.”
ASAP members’ opinions about the immigration system are especially important: from their own experiences with the system, they know what works well about it and what needs to change to make sure their rights are respected. ASAP was proud to help members make their voices heard!