Seeking Asylum: Part 1

Publication date: 
August 2019
The U.S. Immigration Policy Center logo, which features their name spelled out on the right on two lines, with the last two letters bolded, and a globe on the left with a pencil outlining the United States. Accompanies their report, Seeking Asylum: Part 1.

Executive Summary

The U.S. Immigration Policy Center (USIPC) at UC San Diego conducts and supports rigorous social science research to advance understanding of the foundations and consequences of U.S. immigration policy. In April 2019, the USIPC partnered with the San Diego Rapid Response Network (SDRRN). The SDRRN is a coalition of human rights and service organizations, attorneys, and community leaders dedicated to aiding immigrants and their families in the San Diego border region. The SDRRN operates a shelter that provides assistance to asylum seekers and their families who have been admitted into the U.S. From October 2018 through June 2019, the SDRRN assisted approximately 7,300 asylum-seeking heads of households. While some of these individuals have sought asylum in the U.S. alone, the large majority have been families. Altogether, the SDRRN has assisted over 17,000 asylum seekers and their families. This includes 7,900 children five years or younger. The USIPC independently analyzed intake data for the universe of these individuals, focusing on intake forms administered by the SDRRN to the asylum-seeking heads of households.

Summary of Main Findings

  • The asylum seekers that the SDRRN has assisted come from 28 different countries of origin representing all regions of the world. These data thus make clear that changes to U.S. asylum policies focusing on Central Americans at the U.S.-Mexico border will, quite literally, affect asylum seekers from all regions of the world who are seeking protection from persecution
  • Nearly 4 out of every 10, or 39.9%, of the asylum-seeking heads of households that the SDRRN has assisted were seeking asylum with children 5 years or younger. Just over 3 out of every 4, or 75.5%, were seeking asylum with children 12 years or younger. A full 99.7% were seeking asylum with children 18 years or younger. Limiting access to the U.S. asylum system at the U.S.-Mexico border thus means closing off opportunities for asylum-seeking families, many with young children, from seeking protection from persecution in the U.S.
  • The asylum-seeking heads of households that the SDDRN has assisted speak 36 different primary languages
  • For the asylum-seeking heads of households whose primary language is not Spanish, 87.9% were nevertheless given instructions about their immigration court dates by immigration officials on their Notice to Appear (NTA) forms in Spanish
  • Of the asylum-seeking heads of households whose primary language is an indigenous Central American language, only 0.6% were given instructions about their immigration court dates by immigration officials on their Notice to Appear (NTA) forms in a language other than Spanish

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