*Practice limited to federal immigration law. Licensed in NY, MA, but not in CA.

Disrupted By COVID-19, California Churches Offer Safe Place for Asylum Seekers

On November 8th, 2020, the Los Angeles Times published a story on several California churches that are stepping up and providing safety and protection to vulnerable asylum seekers. While these churches are facing restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are now using the space and the resources that they have available to assist vulnerable people.  

Vulnerable Immigrants are Finding Temporary Refuge in Churches

The Los Angeles Times profiled a man named Tsegai. Originating from the East African country of Eritrea, his last name was withheld in order to protect his identity. He told reporters that he arrived in the United States around last Christmas. He was looking for a fresh start and what he believed to be the land of opportunity. Sadly, he was almost immediately detained, shackled, and taken into ICE custody. 

With financial assistance from a local immigrant rights non-profit organization, Tsegai was finally able to post the bond to secure his release from Adelanto ICE Processing Facility in early September. Currently, he, like other vulnerable asylum seekers, is taking temporary refuge in an Episcopal church in Southern California.

As church services are largely prevented due to COVID-19 restrictions, many of these communities have stepped up to protect people who need help. The L.A. Times noted that this trend harkens back to a period in the mid-1980s when many of Southern California’s congregations began taking in Central American migrants who were fleeing violence and unrest that was enveloping the region. 

A Long Four Years, But Hope for the Future for Asylum Seekers 

Under the Trump Administration, the number of refugees taken in by the United States hit a historic low. Every year, President Trump used his authority to reduce the number of refugees allowed into the United States. Further, he pushed the so-called ‘Remain-in-Mexico’ policy—a draconian rule that made it extremely difficult for vulnerable people to claim asylum in the United States. In case after case, President Trump used his executive authority to make life more difficult for asylum seekers and other vulnerable immigrants. 

After a long four years for immigrant rights, a more hopeful future may be coming. President-Elect Joe Biden consistently expressed his opposition to many of the Trump Administration’s immigration policies on the campaign trail—particularly as it concerns refugees and asylum seekers. When in office, Joe Biden will have considerable power to reverse or amend many of President Trump’s executive orders. As noted by National Public Radio (NPR), President-Elect Biden denounced the ‘Remain-in-Mexico’ policy in the final debate and has announced his intention to end the program. 

Get Help From an Asylum Attorney in Los Angeles, California

At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our immigration lawyer has the skills and knowledge to help you or your loved one navigate the asylum claims process. You deserve personalized immigration guidance. Call our team now for a confidential initial strategy session. We handle asylum claims throughout Southern California, including in Los Angeles, Anaheim, Long Beach, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Compton. 

Josh Goldstein
Social Media