USA (MNN) — According to a recent report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, there are serious problem in the processes and policies a refugee has to go through to reach the safety of the United States. The systems meant to separate the truly endangered from the fakers is flawed, and all too often, women and children desperately trying to escape are turned away quickly.
“I think what the report is highlighting is that [it’s] not a humanitarian process, [it] doesn’t take into account the complexities of our system,” says Dana Anderson of Bethany Christian Services. “Under U.S. law, children deserve certain constitutional rights to seek asylum once they reach U.S. soil.”
From being given enough time to understand immigration laws to the opportunity to go before an immigration judge, these rights aren’t being granted to families escaping to the States from around the world.
“Many of them are literally running for their lives. If they were turned and sent back to Guatemala, they would possibly be murdered. So to ask them to very, very quickly be able to not only understand on their own our complex asylum laws, but then to tell their story to an asylum officer who’s a white male, who’s wanting them to move fast, who may or may not understand their indigenous language, it’s just not working.”
So what can be done about it? Anderson says many refugees simply need the resources and knowledge to effectively plead their case. Yet more than that, they desperately need the hope of Christ and the promise of a freedom that extends beyond any borders and any lifespan. That’s where Bethany comes in.
“We believe at Bethany that we’re the hands and feet of Christ, and if can sit down, get to my knees and get face-to-face with a little four-year-old that just literally crossed into the U.S. and is so afraid and had a horrendous journey. And if I can say, ‘You know what? You’re safe now.’ It’s just an unbelievable thing to do.”
Bethany’s new program works alongside Homeland Security to provide an alternative to the usual detention as women and children go through the process of entering America. It also provides them with resources they normally wouldn’t have.
“They get case-management services, they get access to medical treatment, they have the ability to talk with somebody, and that allows them to work through their trauma so they’re prepared when they go before an asylum officer to share why they should be able to remain here in the U.S.”
One of the biggest ways Bethany and other organizations can help is by providing lawyers who know what they’re doing to guide the refugees through the entire complex process of immigration.
“If they have access to a pro bono attorney, they usually 90 percent of the time win their asylum case. For those same vulnerable people groups, if they don’t have access, they often will be deported.”
But what about you? What can you do? Anderson says, “There’s ample opportunity to get involved into the immigrant community, to help and connect with people, and really put yourself in their shoes and understand just how difficult their journey is.
“We’re always looking for foster parents, we’re looking for mentors, we’re looking for volunteers, we have post-relief services which means when children are reunified with their parents here in the country we have comprehensive services for those families to make sure they are integrated well into the community.”
If you want to get involved directly, click right here. Meanwhile, the biggest help for these people is prayer. Remember in prayer those who don’t even make it to the border, and ask God to open hearts to a hope that extends beyond policies and provides true, eternal freedom.