Anti-immigrant rhetoric is currently running rampant online. Many bloggers and far-right outlets expose how little they know about immigration as they try to define their position in claiming that they are not against immigration in general, but simply against illegal immigration.
Let’s not be naive about it. If you know and understand dog-whistles, then you know what and where this rhetoric was born of. It is language that has been perpetuated for over a century in the United States.
What we’re hearing isn’t new. It’s just much louder.
Most of it is derived from the notion that the only avenue to become a legal immigrant in the United States is to apply in one’s home country and simply wait it out as the process takes its course. While there is some truth to that, it’s not quite that simple. Nor is that the only way by which to seek legal status.
In this piece, I want to focus specifically on the asylum aspect of immigration policy and law while addressing the complexities of the process. It’s not as simple as the Breitbarts and Alex Jones’ of the world would have you believe.
There are only two ways to apply for asylum in the United States. One is at a port of entry, and the other is by being present in the United States. Migrants cannot apply for asylum at an embassy or consulate. Migrants cannot apply for asylum through their own government or in their home countries. This is a common misconception that has been perpetuated online and is nothing more than anti-immigrant rhetoric born of extremist group-think.
To qualify for asylum migrants must meet the definition of a “refugee” as defined by international law. A refugee is clearly defined by The United Nations 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol as 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.”