Safe Harbor: Asylum and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Safe Harbor: Asylum and the COVID-19 Pandemic

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that nothing is certain. Millions of asylees from around the world continue to search for a safe harbor from the stormy circumstances in their home countries and the general fear and uncertainty surrounding the spread of Coronavirus. But, what happens to asylees when the borders close?

Pandemic Problems

In keeping the public safe, many countries worldwide closed their borders at one point or another during 2020. However, while this prevented the spread through tourism and visitation from other countries, asylees were left to wander in search of safety.

A recent study showed that COVID-19 restrictions on travel and immigration are already changing asylum policy. The global pandemic has increased the disparities between displaced people and host countries. How this continues to play out depends on whether there will be new immigration policies to mediate these disparities. Even now, around 57 countries deny access to asylees.

Asylum advocates are concerned about the growing humanitarian crisis that is emerging as a result of the pandemic. Not only are asylees being turned away, but more people continue to become displaced due to the death of family members, shortages, and economic downfall. So, what can we do?

Big Problems Need Big Solutions

The same study that found a rise in the disparity between asylees and host populations offered several possible solutions to mitigate the asylee crisis.

  • Cease the detention of children and provide safe spaces for minors
  • Re-instate access to asylum at the U.S. border along with public health measures to manage any risks
  • Provide safe and legal pathways for protection through resettlement, humanitarian visas, and family reunification
  • Increase investments in asylum systems to bridge the gaps caused by the pandemic

The pandemic has affected all of us, but we must acknowledge the asylum crisis before it continues to deteriorate further. Thankfully, the Biden Administration has taken the initiative to reform the current immigration system and provide legal pathways to citizenship.

The Future for Asylees in the U.S.

President Biden proposed a comprehensive immigration plan within his first 100 days in office. The plan provides widespread reforms that would allow immigrants to pursue citizenship and a broad range of immigration benefits.

Critical proposals under the Biden Administration include:

  • Revoking policies that keep families apart
  • Raising per-country caps on family and employment-based visas
  • Transitioning U.S. refugee and asylum systems to a more humane process
  • Improving immigration court processes to protect vulnerable individuals
  • Funding training and education for border patrol officers to enhance their sensitivity and professionalism

These are just a few elements of Biden’s plan for immigration, but they point toward a safer, more welcoming future for asylees in the United States. Until these reforms are put into action, asylum seekers need to be aware of policy changes and regulations that could affect their ability to stay in the U.S.

At Lim Law, P.A., we are passionate about helping asylees find safety and peace in the United States. If you or a loved one needs legal guidance,┬ádon’t hesitate to contact our firm. Our Orlando asylum and refugee attorneys are here for you.