The Missing Link: Connecting Eligible Asylees and Asylum Seekers with Benefits and Services

Essey Workie, Lillie Hinkle and Stephanie Heredia
Date of Publication: 
July, 2022
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

The United States has a history of providing humanitarian protection, including resettling refugees from abroad and granting asylum to those applying within the country or at its borders. Refugees and asylees are often fleeing from persecution on the basis of their race, religion, nationality or political opinion. Asylees are eligible for many of the same services and benefits as refugees, but information about their eligibility is limited to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) website and a pamphlet by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This report, from the Migration Policy Institute, describes the benefits and services for which asylees and asylum seekers are eligible, the mechanisms connecting them with these programs, and opportunities to improve their access to such assistance. Research has found that asylees experience service gaps in health screening, education, employment, housing stability and food security. Asylum seekers cannot legally work for at least six months after they file their application for asylum. Cases often take years, and without the ability to work or access benefits, asylum seekers can face deep poverty, labor exploitation and human trafficking. The report suggests that the federal government can address this problem by developing a national system of outreach, information and referral services, and improving data collection to better measure program participation. State and local governments and philanthropic organizations can play a greater role in linking children of asylum seekers to available services. Not only would this result in greater program participation, it would also allow these residents to contribute more to their local economies. (The Immigrant Learning Center’s Pubic Education Institute)

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Workie, E., Hinkle, L., & Heredia, S. (2022, July). The Missing Link: Connecting Eligible Asylees and Asylum Seekers with Benefits and Services. Migration Policy Institute.