In several postings I have mentioned that when an asylum seeker approaches a U.S. Port of Entry, the alien is detained. [See my September 1, 2008, posting.] ICE’s recent policy, in the vast majority of cases, is to keep the alien detained until his case is resolved — which takes a minimum of four to six months, but can last years. What I have never discussed is what happens when the case is resolved; when the alien is granted asylum.
You probably already suspect what happens – the newly admitted asylee to the United States is brought to an asylum settlement center, provided some clothes, some cash, and a counselor to ease resettlement. The alien is encouraged to attend language classes and counseling both on how to become independent in the United State and how to cope with persecution and torture he or she may have endured abroad and the trauma of the long incarceration after first approaching the Port of Entry. Counselors of the center of course contact family members or friends in the United States and arrange for a safe and orderly reuniting with these people – who are also given some instruction on how to deal with a newly arriving asylee.
Well, if this is what you think, you think wrong. Here is what happens in San Diego. The alien is dumped on the street at the Port of Entry where he sought admission, that is to say, by the San Ysidro trolley station, with only the belongings they came to the United States with. Speak no English? Have no money? Have no contacts in the United States? Lost the phone numbers to friends and family? Have no where to sleep? Well, you’re SOL.
A client’s family recently called me a day after the client won asylum in immigration court to say they had not heard from him after expecting him to be released that day. I called to the ICE officer responsible for the case to ask if he had been released. The officer checked the computer and said that he had been released a day after he was granted asylum. Never mind why it takes a full day to release someone. I asked where he was released. The officer said, at the San Ysidro trolley station. I asked if he was given an opportunity to call his family so someone could pick him up. The officer explained that all they did was dump him on the street with his personal effects and asked me if I was new to immigration law practice. (I think the officer was being facetious.) There has to be a better way.