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HRW report: US immigration policies causing extreme hardship for asylum seekers

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] and Seton Hall University School of Law [academic website] released a report [text, PDF] on Tuesday examining the hardships created by the US asylum program. According to the Immigration Nationality Act (INA) [text] and Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act [text], asylum seekers are not entitled to employment authorization. In addition, these individuals are also not entitled to any public benefits. The report points out that the US is the only developed nation to deny both of these benefits to asylum seekers. In calling for reforms, the report states that US asylum policy violates international standards for human rights:

The prohibition on work authorization and social benefits for asylum seekers under US law is incompatible with international human rights standards and inconsistent with the treatment of other vulnerable groups under US immigration law and with the treatment of asylum seekers in other countries.... Presently there are sufficient deterrents built into the US asylum system to prevent the abuse of employment authorization by asylum seekers without the need for an outright ban on employment. In light of the vulnerability and needs of asylum seekers, the report proposes amending the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to remove the bar to employment for asylum seekers with nonfrivolous claims for asylum.
The report argues that allowing asylum seekers to gain employment would provide clear and simple rules for asylum seekers to seek benefits as well as clear a path so they may provide for themselves.

Immigration law [JURIST backgrounder] continues to be a controversial issue in the US. Last month, Alabama agreed [JURIST report] to permanently block parts of immigration law. Also in October, the Louisiana Supreme Court [official website] struck down [JURIST report] the immigrant driving law. The week before, a federal appeals court upheld [JURIST report] an injunction against the Arizona immigration law. In September, a judge in Washington state ruled [JURIST report] that local enforcement officers cannot extend detention of individuals to question them about their immigration status. In May the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] of Georgia reported [JURIST report] that undocumented immigrants face constitutional and human rights violations in Georgia detention centers.

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