Humanitarian Relief in Immigration Law: Exploring Asylum, Temporary Protected Status, and Refugee Protections

The many challenges surrounding immigration, asylum, and refugees are very much in the news these days. If you have an interest in eligibility or the difficulties faced by those seeking entry to the country, you need to stay up to date on the available options and recent developments surrounding humanitarian relief programs and other protections.

One of the most important aspects of American immigration law is the availability of asylum for people fleeing their own country due to fear of persecution. Asylum offers protection in the face of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Though some legislators are trying to overhaul the U.S. asylum laws, the bill proposing those changes did not pass. Still, asylum seekers should be aware that powerful interests are trying to fundamentally block asylum’s availability for the majority of people coming to the U.S. southern border.

Another tool that provides humanitarian relief for those seeking entry to the United States is the availability of refugee status. This is for those who cannot return to their home country due to a well-founded fear of persecution. Refugee status provides a way for those who qualify to resettle in the United States.

Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, is a temporary status that offers temporary immigration status to people from specific countries where there is an ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary circumstance. In most cases, people who are allowed entry into the country via TPS can remain and work in the United States until the situation in their country is resolved. There are several categories of TPS, including Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents; DACA, which provides temporary protection from deportation and work authorization for certain undocumented people who were brought into the country as children.

Finally, those who seek entry to the United States because they have been victims of certain crimes and have, as a result, suffered mental or physical abuse can get a special visa called a U Visa if they assist law enforcement in investigating and/or prosecuting that crime. These visa holders may be eligible for lawful permanent residence. Some foreign nationals who are battered spouses, children, or parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents are also eligible for similar immigration benefits.

Taking advantage of these special circumstances and applying for them requires knowledge and experience, and this is particularly true while immigration laws are being scrutinized and used as a political tool. For guidance with any matter surrounding immigration, contact our office today.