A new report from the Asylum-Network based on an 18-month study examines the challenges faced by asylum support groups in the United States and the United Kingdom, and the different ways the groups respond to those challenges.
In preparing the report, the authors found that although there were many differences between asylum support groups in the two countries, a uniting theme emerged–an enduring sense of injustice at the treatment of asylum seekers and widespread recognition of the need to do more to change the social, legal, and political situations which lead to inequalities and discrimination.
The report found many similarities between the U.S. and Great Britain, which led to the conclusion that “there are merits to dialogue and exchange… across these distinct country contexts.” Some challenges faced by asylum support groups in both countries include shortages of funding, disconnection between organizations, emotional strain, and lack of legal consistency and accountability in the area of asylum law.
The report makes a number of practical recommendations, including closer collaboration among asylum support organizations and pooling resources for fundraisers, media relations, and combating emotional strain. The report also recommends sharing ideas and policy objectives between organizations in different countries.
One statistic that I found interesting is that, on average, only 11% of an organizations connections were with groups in other countries. Despite the relatively small amount of international cooperation between asylum support groups, survey respondents “felt that there was much potential for co-ordinated international approaches to the issues they face,” particularly issues that could draw on international experience, like alternatives to detention. While this is true in theory, I am not exactly sure how it would work in practice.
For me–and I think for most immigration lawyers and advocates–the local connections are the most important. I rely on a local network of attorneys and fellow travelers to answer my questions and keep me informed of new developments. While I do sometimes rely on case law and reports from other countries (usually Canada, the UK, and Australia) to help support my clients’ claims, I can find this information on the internet without much trouble. I certainly like the idea of connecting with asylum advocates in other countries. It’s just that with limited time, it is difficult to establish and maintain such connections.
In the report, the authors indicate that they are attempting to start a conversation. I hope that this proves to be true. Perhaps a website, an on-line journal or periodic on-line conferences would be good ways to continue and expand the dialogue. Whatever form it may take, to succeed, the continued conversation must provide busy asylum advocates with easily digestible information that helps with practical problems.
Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
Jason Dzubow's practice focuses on immigration law, asylum, and appellate litigation. Mr. Dzubow is admitted to practice law in the federal and state courts of Washington, DC and Maryland, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fourth, Eleventh, and DC Circuits, all Immigration Courts in the United States, and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Capital Area Immigrant Rights (CAIR) Coalition. In June 2009, CAIR Coalition honored Mr. Dzubow for his Outstanding Commitment to Defending the Rights and Dignity of Detained Immigrants.