Seeking asylum

Seeking asylum has a long history. As part of the Geneva convention, people are allowed to avail a country for protection if they are being persecuted for race, religion, nationality, social group, or political opinion.

“An asylum-seeker is a person who has left their country and is seeking protection from persecution and serious human rights violations in another country, but who hasn’t yet been legally recognized as a refugee and is waiting to receive a decision on their asylum claim. Seeking asylum is a human right. This means everyone should be allowed to enter another country to seek asylum.” (source here)

“A refugee is a person who has fled their own country because they are at risk of serious human rights violations and persecution there. The risks to their safety and life were so great that they felt they had no choice but to leave and seek safety outside their country because their own government cannot or will not protect them from those dangers. Refugees have a right to international protection.” (source here)

By contrast, a migrant might leave their country “because they want to work, study or join family, for example. Others feel they must leave because of poverty, political unrest, gang violence, natural disasters or other serious circumstances that exist there.” (source here)

According to the Geneva Convention, at the moment of urgency, cooperating countries have to let asylum seekers and refugees into their country. Later, they go though a proceeding that determines if they get asylum. This can be risky because if they get sent back, they could be killed by the people they are fleeing. Asylum seekers need to present a convincing case that they were in danger in their country and had no way to find protection. They are granted temporary asylum and it is up to the government of the country where they seek asylum if they should be detained, locked up.

In the US, Trump etc has decided that ALL asylum seekers and migrants be detained. (At our expense. $$$$$$$$$$) The kids of asylum seekers and migrants are not detained so they are taken from their parents and getting sent to camps. That’s the logic. But why detain everyone? This hasn’t been done before. There are no clear guidelines for caring for the children. Some have even been put up for adoption, leading to accusations of kidnapping!

In the current system in the US, honest people fleeing persecution and violence in Latin America can be detained with criminals. They can be detained for years, by the way, even if they are innocent. This is not the smartest, cheapest, or kindest policy. It lowers the moral standing of the US in the world because no other country separates parents and kids. (Although India won’t let anyone in since they never signed the Geneva convention.)

Sadly, women fleeing domestic violence or genital mutilation are not covered by the convention. People fleeing natural disaster, migrants, have the same rights as asylum seeking but in the US, those from the Bahamas are being turned away.

Right now, there are over 25 million refugees in the world. Here in the US, most asylum seekers are from China, followed by El Salvador.

In the US, asylum seekers could once refer to the highlighted document. However, it is no long available.

The Geneva Convention was created in 1951, as stories of Jewish people fleeing Nazis being turned away and later executed became known. The United States was responsible for turning many away, including a ship load on a vessel known as the St. Louis. The US signed the Geneva Convention and codified the principles in 1980. It is considered to be international law. It’s not illegal to seek asylum but, egged on by cruel policies, some seekers are called criminals. This is a violation of international law and inspires hatred and demonization across the globe.

Here is a podcast on How to seek asylum plus a heartwarming story. Here is the History of the Geneva convention.

BTW, if your state has capital punishment, as Iowa is considering, and as the US has added, you can be a refuge to to another countries such as France. Let’s hope the world gets a little more loving or there could be no place to flee to. We also need to recognize domestic violence as violence.

How I Got My Real ID

For those of you familiar with my Unstable States dystopian series, you’ll recall that in the nation of Cochtonia, people don’t vote and get scanned regularly with a No Regrets device. As detailed in Mixed In, this scanner was developed to allow people to check sex partners for diseases, but it quickly became used by the Vice Patrol to check them for “deviance” instead. We haven’t reached this point yet here in the US, but we do have The Real ID. (Click link for official description)

The Real ID is supposed to provide better security at airports and other places, and who doesn’t want better security? However, critics say that the 9-11 hijackers had plenty of ID (some faked) and this didn’t stop them. The National Academy of Science pointed out numerous problems with having a National ID. The new type of ID not only resembles restrictive IDs used in Russia, but provides a nice hackable data base with plenty of our personal information.–including images with facial recognition! We all know that not much has been done to prevent hacking.

The Real ID has been in the works since 2005. “Republican Cong. F. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin is to blame. In February 2005, he attached the Real ID Act to a defense appropriations bill. No one was willing to risk not supporting the troops by holding up the bill, and it became law. No hearings. No floor debate. With nary a whisper, the United States had a national ID.”

According to the government “On May 11, 2005, President Bush signed into law the Emergency Supplemental Appropriation for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005 (H.R. 1268, P.L. 109-13), which included the “Real ID Act of 2005.” Title II of Real ID—“Improved Security for Driver’s License’ and Personal Identification Cards”—repeals the provisions of a December 2004 law (P.L. 108-458) that established a negotiated rule making process to create federal standards for driver’s licenses and instead directly imposes prescriptive federal driver’s license standards.”

It will be required by 2020, just in time for the election. Will it affect voters? Yes, in some states you will need a real ID to vote: CO, GA, MD, NM, MS, NE, SD, TX, UT, VT, and WY. Some states are automatically granting enhanced driver’s licenses as Real ID stand-ins: Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington are states that currently issue EDLs. (For more information on EDLs, please go to www.dhs.gov/enhanced-drivers-licenses-what-are-they.) And there’s a lurking danger–the federal government doesn’t like some states’ Real IDs and are declaring some of them invalid. California is one of these states.

It’s estimated that in 2020 millions of people will not be able to vote or will be discouraged from trying to vote due to Real IDs,

I went to get my Real ID at the DOT this week. Here’s what I had to bring with me:

You must apply in person to get a Real ID. The DOT comes to Pella two times a month and provides services from 9am-4pm. Otherwise, you have to drive to the county seat. No problem for me but if a person is not a driver, it could be.

In Pella, I waited for about 40 minutes and had to pay $10 and get a new photo taken. My Real ID will come in the mail in a week or so. I had a passport, but to get it, I had to get a new official birth certificate and pay for that (since I was born out of state in Michigan), a photo, and pay for that, and pay for the passport. How do poor people get a Real ID? I wrote Homeland Security (in charge of the Real ID rollout) and asked this question. I’ll update when I get an answer.

What’s the problem? Isn’t this a simple upgrade from the IDs we have now? Not simple for everyone. Many people do not have or need photo IDs. Rural people were often born at home and don’t have birth certificates. Some people have their names spelled wrong on their birth certificate or suddenly find they were not legally adopted and must pay hundreds of dollars in fees to comply. People who have recently gotten divorced/married or moved to a new state report making multiple trips and headaches to get their Real ID. In Kansas, not only have there been problems, but only 40% of people have a Real ID. Some people have expired licenses and don’t drive. Over 80% of people in the US have flown at least once and 50% have flown recently.People can use a Passport as an alternative for flying. However, it’s taking longer to get passports due to lack of staff. And once again, I ask–what about poor people?

Here in the US, about 11% of the population has no ID of any kind. There are ministries and non-profits to help poor people get IDs, which are needed for things such as welfare and getting married. The real ID has made this a time eating and burdensome process. Is there help in Iowa? If so, I can’t find it

Some people worry that Real ID will create two tiers of people–those who have a real ID and those who don’t. It seems a little dystopian, don’t you think?

Click here if you need help obtaining a Real ID.