The following text in quotes was copied from the Freedom House website.

where do asylum seekers come from?

Portrait of senior black man in eyeglasses with serious expression. Horizontal shot.“Currently most of (the asylum seekers at Freedom House) are from Rwanda, Cameroon, Uganda, Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo. As conflicts in the world rage, (we) see changes in the nationalities.” Like Freedom House in Detroit, DFW has a large African population, but national statistics show that high numbers also come from China, Haiti, Venezuela and elsewhere.

Click here for data on where asylum seekers come from.

how do asylum seekers escape their country?

“Most… have fled their home country in secret. Many are forced to go into hiding for a period of time while friends and family find assistance to help them escape. Some are able to fly out of their home county using false identification information or by having a family member or friend bribe police. Almost all are forced to leave without the opportunity to say goodbye to loved ones because of the danger to themselves and their families.”

why can’t asylum seekers move to another part of their county?

“People who have the option of relocating within their own country are not eligible for asylum. (Asylum seekers) are often activists whose governments want to stop them from advocating for democratic change and human rights. There is nowhere (they) can safely go in their countries because of this.”

how do they get to the U.S.?

“Most… obtain U.S. visas (such as a student or visitor visa) in their home country and fly to the United States. Upon landing in the U.S. many have no idea where they will go next— they just hope that they will be safe if they make it to the U.S. Some may have a contact, others simply find someone at the airport and ask for help.”

Note: The other asylum seekers who do not arrive with valid visas are apprehended at U.S. points of entry, and taken to immigration detention centers.  Some remain there until their asylum claim is judged; others may be released to family or community sponsors/hosts once they pass the “credible fear” interview, establish their identity, are determined not to be a risk to U.S. security and have a place to stay/source of support until they can get work authorized and/or asylum.

are they here legally?

“When most (asylum seekers) arrive in the U.S. they typically are in status— meaning they have valid visas. While here in the U.S. they work with lawyers to complete asylum applications, which are then submitted to the U.S. government. Once the U.S. government receives the application, asylum seekers continue to be “legally” present even if their visa expires, because by submitting their application they have made themselves known to the U.S. government, in effect saying: “I am here. Please help me. I am not safe if I go back to my country.”