Asylum Is Not Illegal

Last Time I Checked Asylum Is Not Illegal, Mr. President

Turning away these people is fundamentally unAmerican, unjust, and utterly wrong.

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Trump states that we will not allow anyone into our country that is not here legally. That if they want to come and be a part of our "great" nation they need to do it the right way. He claims these people are an invasion. The caravan of Central American migrants who are coming to seek asylum is, in fact, doing it the right way according to our laws regarding asylum seeking. So why are they being tear gassed?

US officers fire teargas at migrant caravan www.youtube.com


What are the current laws? According to the AIC (American Immigration Council) the definition of a refugee is as follows, "a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country, and cannot obtain protection in that country, due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion." Congress decided to incorporate this definition in the Refugee Act of 1980 and is now a part of US immigration law. According to the 1967 Protocol, and U.S. immigration law, the United States has legal obligations to provide protection to those who qualify as refugees.

Our laws indicate there are two paths to obtain refugee status. Either abroad as a resettled refugee or in the United States as what the caravan is attempting to do, as asylum seekers. As the AIC puts it this can be done by "the affirmative process and the defensive process. Asylum seekers who arrive at a U.S. port of entry or enter the United States without inspection generally must apply through the asylum process. Both processes require the asylum seeker to be physically present in the United States."

The difference between the two processes is the current status of removal proceedings. If you are not yet in removal proceeding you can apply via affirmative but "If the USCIS asylum officer does not grant the asylum application and the applicant does not have a lawful immigration status, he or she is referred to the immigration court for removal proceedings," where the asylum seeker can request for asylum through the defensive process. So basically once you are being threatened for removal you can go through the defensive process and if you apply through the affirmative process you are likely to also have to apply through the defensive process.

After filing for the process (which can and likely will take years) an asylum seeker must prove that he or she meets the definition of a refugee with or without counsel. Often providing substantial evidence throughout the processes demonstrating either past persecution or that they have a "well-founded fear" of future persecution in their home country, the individual's own testimony is critical to this determination. Certain factors can legally bar individuals from asylum. With limited exceptions, individuals who fail to apply for asylum within the one-year time limit of entering the United States and those who are found to pose a danger to the United States will be barred from receiving asylum.

The caravan person so far has yet to meet either reason for banning. So, therefore, these people who are in fact seeking asylum are attempting to follow our laws and areas such being violently and wrongfully treated by our own government for trying to follow a tricky confusing set of laws.

"Poor, miserable people, families, mothers, children, fleeing from terror and repression, for which we are responsible, and in reaction, they're sending thousands of troops to the border. The troops being sent to the border outnumber the children who are fleeing," says Noam Chomsky, a linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, political scientist, and social critic. The reason is that they are fleeing from persecution, poverty, and violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

The as of 2015 in Honduras was 60 per 100,000 which decreased only by a little and then El Salvador nearby increased to 100 per 100,000 people. Making El Salvador the most deadly country outside of a war zone this is due to gang-related violence which in percentage the homicide rate was 103 per hundred thousand only falling by thirty percent since 2015.

Their countries, which form a region known as the Northern Triangle, or "Troika of tyranny" were rocked by civil wars in the 1980s, leaving legacies of violence, poverty, fragile institutions, military coups, etc. In a 2015 investigation founded by La Presena, a local newspaper reported that Salvadorans and Hondurans pay an estimated $390 million, $200 million, and $61 million in extortion fees to organized crime groups. Which many of the asylum seekers have claimed as a dominant reason for leaving along with the fear of their children grow up with the pressure to join or be killed.

As many fear, and rightfully so as the report claims many attacks are on people who do not pay contribute to the violence. Meaning that the choice is to continue feed into the violence and anarchy, stay and likely be murdered, see your children fall into these organizations, or take a chance and flee. Once you flee, you cannot go back.

In short, there is a legal obligation to hear asylum claims from migrants who have arrived in the United States if they say they fear violence in their home countries. If an asylum seeker enters the US illegally, they are still entitled to a hearing of their claims. These people have rights even though they are not from our country. They are human. Scared and fearful for their lives and the lives of their families they have come to us, seeking hope and safety, greeting by their hope tear gassing them and saying hello with military force. This is wrong. It is not American justice and rightfulness. Let's fix it now.

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An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.
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Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.

Sincerely,

A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Part 1: Necessary Changes

One of my favorite movies is "Fried Green Tomatoes" with Kathy Bates. In the movie Bates' character Evelyn Couch says, "Someone helped put a mirror up in front of my face, and I didn't like what I saw one bit. And you know what I did? I changed." I know the feeling.

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I looked in the mirror over the weekend and didn't like what I saw.

The person I saw looking back at me is petty, selfish, manipulative, and unattractive. It wasn't that I hated what I saw, but I definitely didn't like what I saw either. It's a surreal feeling, looking at yourself through a critical lens, and it doesn't make you feel good in any way shape or form.

The image that I see of myself is not how I want others to perceive me. I want to be someone that people look at and see kindness, compassion, strength, and confidence.

I have enough general life experience to know that these types of changes aren't going to happen overnight, and not all of them will be physical; most of these will have to happen from the inside, from within myself.

When you find out you are all broken and damaged, it's hard to know where to start putting the pieces back together. I figured the best place to start would be the most literal: my actual insides; so, I decided to embark on a deep-cleansing journey to get all of the toxins out of my body, from the inside out.

I found this book on 10-day green smoothie detox stashed away in the dark corner of my bookshelf. The science behind it seems accurate and legitimate. By eliminating certain foods, your body is able to detox itself off of chemicals and foods that are slowing down your metabolism; the smoothies are specifically designed with combinations of foods that help restart your metabolism. Part of the detox process is getting rid of all dependencies on caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.

Every day you are given the recipe for a specific smoothie; you make the smoothie (about 40 ounces) and sip on it throughout the day whenever you get hungry. Every smoothie is a combination of leafy greens, water, fruit, and flax seeds. If you do happen to get hungry throughout the day, you are encouraged to eat raw nuts, hard boiled eggs, and a wide variety of crunchy green vegetables. There is also a detox tea that you have first thing in the morning, but other than that no other beverages are allowed except water.

I know that this is only the beginning of a very long, emotional, and draining journey. But I think I'm at the point in my life where I have to make these changes. I have to put my pieces together, I have to become a normal functioning adult, I have to find out who I am. I think that this is the perfect way to start.

For the next 10 days I am going to be documenting my experiences, how I'm feeling, what my emotions are doing, and any results that I see.

Stay tuned!

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