Dans un rapport, intitulé “At Least Let Them Work: The Denial of Work Authorization and Assistance for Asylum Seekers in the United States” produit conjointement par Human Rights Watch et le Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Social Justice, les deux organisations mettent en lumière la face sombre du traitement des demandes d'asile par les États-Unis.
- Concernant l'asile au sens large je renvoie à ce lien en guise d'introduction et à la Convention relative au statut des réfugiés
- Concernant le régime juridique américain applicable aux demandeurs d'asile, je renvoie à cette brochure du service américain de la citoyenneté et de l'immigration qui détaille le régime juridique applicable.
- Le titre m'apparaît suffisamment parlant... je me contente de renvoyer au rapport et de partager le résumé :
"Khaled M. and his wife and daughter fled Egypt after people connected to the Islamist organization al-Gama’a al-Islamiya threatened and beat him and attempted to kidnap his wife and daughter. Upon entering the United States, Khaled filed an asylum claim and assumed that he would be allowed to work to support himself and his family while they waited for a decision.
However, as Khaled soon learned, asylum seekers in the United States are prohibited from working until at least 180 days have passed since they submitted the asylum application, unless they are granted asylum sooner. In practice, however, asylum seekers often wait for much longer than 180 days. Immigration judges and asylum officers have discretion to “stop the clock” towards work authorization for a variety of reasons. Once that happens, it is very challenging to get the work authorization clock to start running again, and in the meantime, the asylum seeker is not permitted to work.
This is exactly what happened to Khaled M. The prohibition on working stretched from months to years. During that time, like other asylum seekers in the United States, Khaled and his family were also barred from receiving public assistance. He was, therefore, unable to provide for his family, and they struggled to find food and shelter. The family sometimes slept on the streets, and Khaled resorted to begging to support his family. The inability to work took a physical and emotional toll on Khaled and his family. Eventually, the US government recognized Khaled as a refugee and granted him asylum, but before that happened he spent nearly five years feeling as though he had escaped persecution in Egypt only to find it again in the United States.
Khaled M.’s story is like many others. Asylum seekers from all over the world, facing persecution or fear of persecution, come to the United States in the hopes of escaping the horrors they faced in their home countries. But, once they arrive in the United States, they are often surprised to learn that they must face new, seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
In addition to being barred from working, asylum seekers are also ineligible to receive nearly any type of government benefit while awaiting a decision on their cases. While the majority of developed asylum-granting nations place certain limitations on the right to work for asylum seekers, the United States stands alone in denying both employment and governmental assistance.
The denial of federal benefits, combined with long delays and frequent denial of work authorization, renders US treatment of asylum-seekers an anomaly among developed countries. First, provisions of the US immigration law for many other groups of migrants seeking protection provide applicants work authorization faster than in asylum law. This is particularly troubling because of the vulnerability of asylum seekers. But instead of treating asylum seekers at least as favorably as other similarly situated immigrants, US asylum law, in effect, seems to penalize them.
Second, unlike many other developed nations, the United States provides neither federal benefits nor work authorization to asylum seekers. Some of these other countries seek to fulfill their international obligations by giving asylum seekers the means to subsist rather than employment authorization. Providing the right to work can be another route to protecting the fundamental right to livelihood and the many other economic and social rights that depend upon it.
This report documents the hardships asylum seekers face in four major areas as a consequence of being denied work authorization: psychological harm and interference with the ability to heal after torture and persecution; economic hardships and vulnerability to further victimization; the physical and health-related hardships created by an inability to provide for oneself; and difficulties with access to legal counsel in pursuit of asylum claims and work authorization.
This report compares the treatment of asylum seekers with the treatment afforded to other vulnerable immigrant groups in the United States in relation to work authorization and social benefits. It also contrasts the policies and practices of the US government in this area with those of other developed countries. The report finds that the prohibition on work authorization and social benefits for asylum seekers under US law is incompatible with international human rights standards and inconsistent with the treatment of other vulnerable groups under US immigration law and with the treatment of asylum seekers in other countries.
Specifically, the report concludes that presently there are sufficient deterrents built into the US asylum system to prevent the abuse of employment authorization by asylum seekers without the need for an outright ban on employment. In light of the vulnerability and needs of asylum seekers, the report proposes amending the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to remove the bar to employment for asylum seekers with non-frivolous claims for asylum."
Un communiqué français sera probablement publié dans les prochains jours.