Thousands of people apply for political asylum in the United States each year. They come from all over the world, and from all walks of life. But they have one thing in common: they are fleeing persecution. The process for applying and receiving asylum is rigorous, and is based on international protocol.
But changes are being made to the process because of concerns about terrorist threats, dating back even before September 11. The Real ID Act, signed into law in May 2005 has redefined how immigration judges and asylum officers are to evaluate cases. Some see this as a good way to tighten up what they see as lax asylum laws that allow terrorists to get in the country. Others, including some asylum officers, see these changes threatening the ability of legitimate asylum seekers to receive asylum in the United States.
Producer: Sarah Elzas with Olivia Bueno
Recorded in Lyndhurst, NJ, and Staten Island, NY,
with help from Rachel McCarthy in Washington, DC
Edited by Steve Mencher