Imagine that you lived in a country whose government was committing crimes against humanity and that you felt compelled to speak out against those crimes. You are walking home one day and you are suddenly attacked and beaten. When you finally make it home, bloodied and bruised, you find your house burned, your money gone, and a note saying that you will not live to see your family again.
You rush to get a visitor visa to a safe country where you plan to apply for asylum. You arrive there terrified, alone, hungry, exhausted, with no money, no work permit, and no place to live. The local homeless shelter and food bank turns you down since you have no Social Security card. Who would you turn to? Where would you go? Imagine your sense of hopelessness.
Similar stories are the reality for an estimated 100 asylum seekers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Nationally in 2010, there were 55,530 asylum applications filed.
Asylum seekers are people who are in the legal process of obtaining a permanent protected status, asylum, on the basis of persecution due to their race, religion, ethnicity, social group, or political opinion. These people cannot return to their country for fear of death.
As one volume of Refugee Magazine puts it:
“While you wait for asylum America says, ‘We won’t give you food, or shelter, or a lawyer or let you earn money to pay for those things yourself.”
While many other cities across the nation have created grassroots organizations to meet the basic physical needs of these asylum seekers, our area, Dallas/Fort Worth, previously had no place for these people to turn… until we created the DASH Network: The DFW Asylum Seeker Housing Network.
Our hope is that those who arrive here, believing that America is a place of protection from unjust persecution, will no longer be in danger of hunger, homelessness, and hopelessness, but rather have a network of people who care about them, a safe place to call home, and hope for the future.