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Local News

MLK Day online forum highlights difficulties of asylum system

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Danielle Smith, Public News Service

Today, a virtual “Ask Me Anything” program will address some of the pressing issues of asylum-seekers, in Pennsylvania and across the country.

More than 500 people were granted asylum in Pennsylvania in 2022, according to the Office of Homeland Security.

Cathryn Miller-Wilson, executive director of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society Pennsylvania, said the forum was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s commitment to justice and equity for marginalized communities. The program will shed light on the difficulties of the asylum process and advocate for improved asylum policies.

“We, in carrying on his legacy, are putting together this event to provide critical, truthful information about what’s going on,” Miller-Wilson explained. “And ask for advocacy about improving things, to make things more equitable.”

The online event is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET. Miller-Wilson noted one topic will be the high number of people at the southern U.S. border due to higher levels of global displacement. Recent news reporting indicates the U.S. Border Patrol’s ability to effectively handle the influx of migrants is overwhelming its resources.

Miller-Wilson emphasized members of Congress and the White House are considering proposals which could drastically change the asylum system. She pointed to one pending bill, House Resolution 1325, which is intended to help eligible asylum applicants get employment authorization.

“That’s another piece of the asylum process that nobody talks about,” Miller-Wilson emphasized. “Under our current law, if you are eligible to apply for asylum, you can come into the country, you can apply for asylum, but you are not eligible for work authorization for six months.”

Miller-Wilson said her group helps people with incomes below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level with legal and social service needs. She added today’s panel includes a client in Philadelphia who received asylum about a year ago, a doctor from the Philadelphia Human Rights Clinic, and a staff attorney for the group.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.