If immigrants arrive in South Carolina expecting asylum from a country that is persecuting them, they may find themselves in a situation that appears to be just as bad as the one that they left. Asylum seekers in a number of states have begun hunger strikes after having been stuck in detention centers for months. The strikes began in California and Alabama before Thanksgiving, and they have spread to several other states since.
Currently, there are about 34,000 immigrants being held in detention centers throughout the United States. Instead of finding a safe place, these individuals are waiting for extended periods of time before being able to argue their case in front of a judge.
The majority of those participating in the strikes and trying to bring attention to the extended detention times and poor conditions hail from South Asia and various parts of Africa. Immigrants who have credible fear of their government are supposed to be allowed immediate parole based on a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy, but large numbers of asylum seekers have been held for two years. Even worse, many of these individuals are not being given access to lawyers who could assist them with the process of seeking asylum.
People who are facing deportation may still be able to stay in the country. Depending on where they come from and their particular situation, they could successfully apply for asylum. Changes to laws related to immigration and asylum are currently being considered, and they could make it easier for someone to remain in the country. A lawyer could assist an individual who is facing deportation and outline the options that are available.