The Trauma of Seeking Asylum: Trauma, asylum-seekers, and my experiences at Refugee Immigration Ministry
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For a variety of personal and research reasons, this has been an extremely challenging and at times very frustrating paper to write. Although I have tried to keep separate my feelings regarding the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) from the body of this paper, there are a few notes I would like to make. First, regarding numbers, I realize I have not relied heavily on numbers, and that some of the numbers I have used are a few years old. This is due to difficulty finding statistics that offer clear conclusions. Unsure of any other reliable source of asylum numbers within the U.S., I have relied solely on the INS for these types of numbers. However, the asylum process includes two different agencies, INS and the Executive Office for Immigration Review, under whose jurisdiction aliens are placed in immigration proceedings before an immigration judge. Each agency keeps its own separate records of numbers and, to complicate matters, they use two different data systems. Therefore, all numbers quoted here are from the INS's RAPS system only. (http://www.ins.usdoj.gov/, 2000 Statistical Yearbook of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.) As well, it was difficult to use the numbers to arrive at clear conclusions because of several complicating factors. For example, the numbers of asylum cases "opened" in one year include both new cases and reopened cases, which may have been initiated several years before but were for some reason temporarily closed. Therefore, this number is not necessarily indicative of the number of new aslyees within the U.S. in one year. Then, the numbers offered of cases granted in a year are offered with no reference, such as by the year they were opened. However, I have included the most recent statistics available from INS for general information. (Appendix A) Finally, although I mention the possibility of parole, and it is obviously sometimes given since parolees are occasionally released to Refugee Immigration Ministry (RIM), I was unable to find any information or statistics regarding parole on the INS webpage. Within the webpage is the Immigration and Nationality Act, which defines detention and states it as mandatory for aslyees while in their asylum process, if they arrive without proper documents. (INA Act 235 (b)(l)(B)(ii), (B)(iii)(IV)) Although within the rest of the site the INS did acknowledge that it maintains detention centers, and even offered procedures for booking and releasing aliens held in detention, the only reference to detention for asylum seekers was within the INA. Also, there were no numbers offered for how many aslyees are detained or paroled, nor under what specific conditions they would be released for parole. Parole is decided by the District Director, and is granted if an asylee's "continued detention is not in the public interest."
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