Why did it take a controversial election and an even more controversial president to raise more awareness and support for refugees? It’s almost cynical to think that an executive order got us, as Americans, to open our eyes to such an underlying cause. What is going to happen to 38,000 refugees who call America home?
Concern has been raised by countless groups, from politicians to professional athletes to the general public. Think of it this way, the NBA immediately inquired to the state department, about what would happen to its international athletes—Luol Deng plays for an American team, holds South Sudanese and Australian citizenship, but their biggest concern was whether he would be allowed to enter or even leave America if the Lakers play a game against Canada’s team. Clearly, South Sudan is not one of the countries subjected, but when you consider the same scenario—with someone from Yemen or Lebanon—then it would make more sense.
When the term ‘refugee’ is used, it is often in the context of a person who leaves their home, presumably a country at war, in danger of some war, natural disaster, or political upset, and venture to a foreign country that would offer them freedom and asylum. A refugee would have to receive legal permission to stay in the US before arriving. “Asylum” provides a way for a person to be granted protection and residence in a foreign nation. A person seeking asylum can enter the country, and then be given permission to stay. The US prides itself on the being “land of the free,” which is coincidently, why many people who experience hardship in their homeland come here.
There are many ways to apply for permanent residence in the US, one being applying for a green card through Refugee or Asylee status and the I-485 form. To do so you would have to live in the US for at least 1 year prior to applying. This is also a requirement of US Citizen and Immigration Services if you are a Refugee. If you are an Asylee, applying or a green card in your first year is not required, but highly suggested. Take for instance, the wife of a Columbia University student—in the US on an H1B visa— who had been blocked from leaving Iran. She was in the US on a dependent visa (H4), but she was in the process of seeking a green card to secure her residency. The most important part of receiving a green card as an Asylee or Refugee would be proving that the reason you moved to the states was to escape potential danger.
Since news broke of how many have been blocked from entering the US or who could face deportation, legal teams have worked nonstop to find ways of urging refugees already in the US to make sure they secure their residency legally, don’t be that person that sits back and lets their work, education, dependent visa or Asylee status dwindle away, because rest assure once the years are up, you’ll have to return to your homeland and may be blocked from reentering the country.
Now, Judge James Robart, nominated by President W. Bush, halted the Executive Order giving temporary relief to many. This temporary relief is now permanent, until at least the Trump Administration tries to take this case to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, uncertainty prevails.
For now, however, we hold onto the ideals that America is and will always be the “land of the free,” had it not been, then the Iraqi refugee that was detained at JFK wouldn’t have stated that as being his reason for loving this country so much and take it from the Atlantic, “every crisis requires that we be informed by fear, but not controlled by panic.”