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Seeking asylum: What to know about reaching the border

The United States has long provided safety to those who have to flee persecution. To obtain help and freedom from that persecution, a party can seek asylum. Asylum can help those who come to America avoid being sent back to their own countries due to the very real threat to their lives.

People who arrive at the United States' border have the right to request asylum. You have the right to seek asylum without being separated from your children, turned away or criminalized for doing so.

What is asylum?

Asylum is essentially a legal protection that can be granted to those who are able to show that they're unable to return to their homes because of threats or a well-founded fear of persecution due to their nationality, religion, race, political opinion or membership in a social group.

Asylum has been available in the United States since the end of World War II, and it has been a part of immigration law specifically since 1980 thanks to the passing of the Refugee Act of 1980.

What does it take to be seen as an asylum seeker?

Someone who is seeking asylum has fled in order to avoid punishments in their own country as a result of racism or other causes. They are seeking legal protection in another country.

Those seeking asylum can be from any country, be any age, have any socio-economic status or nationality and be male or female. In most cases, people seeking asylum in the United States come from areas of the world that are involved in conflict or were involved in a disaster.

What happens when you arrive at the U.S. border?

When you arrive, you will need to make it clear that you want to seek asylum. You'll be referred to a credible fear interview, which is conducted by an officer who has been trained to work with people seeking asylum. With a positive result, you'll be referred to an immigration court to seek asylum before a judge. If you don't receive an approval, then you can be deported.

People who apply for asylum are five times more likely to be granted asylum with the help of an attorney, which is why it's so important to reach out to an attorney when you reach the border. Having someone there who can help you speak with officials and protect your rights as you do so is vital.

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