In Search of Safety
Many of the millions of refugees and displaced persons worldwide live in dangerous situations, in an unbearable state of limbo, with no way forward and no way back.
Developing countries are host to nearly two-fifths of the world’s refugees, many of them struggling to protect the rights of their own citizens as well. A tiny percentage of refugees are resettled to places where they can make a new start and break out of the limbo that they were in. Others return to their country of origin, but are often pressed to do so before they are ready or before their country is ready to receive them. Some are able to stay in their country of asylum, to live and to work, and to enjoy legal rights like the citizens of the country.
In the developed world, in countries like those in Western Europe, North America, or Australia, it is getting harder and harder for refugees to find protection. These governments have introduced restrictions like stringent visa requirements, penalties on airlines that bring asylum-seekers into a country, and detention. These restrictions are designed to deter people from coming to their countries to seek protection.
Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the United States
Almost every year in the United States the government attempts to reform and increase the harshness of immigration legislation. Refugees and asylum seekers are always a part of this debate because any change to immigration law affects their ability to gain access to U.S. borders so that they may make claims for protection, avoid prolonged detention, and receive a fair hearing. Yet, the effect of immigration reform on refugees and asylum seekers is almost entirely absent from discussion in the Congress and the media.
Amnesty International believes that refugees and asylum seekers must be remembered and considered in the larger debate on immigration reform. Specifically, as legislators and lay people think about border issues, they must remember that U.S. borders often present the only viable avenue for protection to asylum seekers from around the world, that asylum seekers have the right under international and domestic law to seek protection in the United States, and that any increased enforcement measures must not take place in a manner that violates the human rights of asylum seekers.