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Asylum seekers’ words

November 4, 2013

The following is excerpted from UUSC Associate for Grassroots Mobilization Kara Smith’s e-mail to UUSC supporters in November 2013 about asylum seekers in the U.S. detention system:

“Fahran worked as a translator to the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. He fled to the United States after being targeted for this work. After several months of travel via planes, road, and rivers through Dubai, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Central America, and Mexico, he arrived at the U.S. border.

” ‘I was tired, thirsty, hungry, and in bad health conditions, including cuts on my legs that were infected. I was put in a cell for 24 hours, given a little piece of bread and some water. The floor was cement. I was begging for help.’

“In these conditions, he was interviewed by Border Patrol for three hours. He was taken to the Laredo Contract Detention Facility before being transferred to the South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall, TX, where he remained for 23 months before being granted asylum.” (Note: Fahran is a pseudonym; his name was changed to protect his identity.)

While immigration reform is stuck in Congress, thousands of asylum seekers like Fahran are stuck in an inhumane immigrant detention system. UUSC has been working with the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) and the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) to make sure that the voices of asylum seekers do not go unheard — and we need your help.

Many Americans simply don’t know the truth about what happens to refugees seeking asylum when they arrive in the United States. Asylum seekers, including survivors of persecution and torture, are routinely jailed upon arrival at U.S. borders. Their detention can be indefinite; they may have no idea when they will be released. And often they have no access to a lawyer.

Fahran’s story is featured in a new report, Tortured & Detained: Survivor Stories of U.S. Immigration Detention, released this morning. UUSC supported CVT and TASSC in producing it. Over the next month, UUSC, CVT, and TASSC will be sharing the report with legislators on Capitol Hill. We will be using it to bring the personal experiences of asylum seekers, including survivors of torture, to light.

Today, as part of efforts to raise awareness of asylum seekers’ experiences, UUSC President Bill Schulz published an op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor. Read it here.

You can help too. Share this graphic on social media, so the voices of asylum seekers can be heard:

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