Clarity in sanctuary

Envision a life in which you are nothing more than a human possession — an object abused by someone to the point that you fear for your life. For those that live in nations that allow such abuse to occur legally, refuge in the United States is certainly appealing, however, it is not always easily attainable. A Guatemalan woman named Rody Alvarado has sought protection in the United States for the past 14 years. A victim of domestic abuse and subordination by her husband, Alvarado recently gained legal asylum in this country after a San Francisco court dealing with her case received the green light from the Department of Homeland Security to officially deem Alvarado a refugee worthy of safe haven in America. In addition, men and women who fear or experience persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership to a social group may also apply for asylum in the U.S. Following their claim of oppression, refugees such as Alvarado must endure a lengthy process involving interviews with asylum officials, an extensive application process and court appearances that ultimately decide whether those who request asylum are granted the wish. Thankfully for Alvarado, her asylum request was finally accepted in October. But 14 years is too long. For women like Alvarado, who are victims of domestic violence, it is unacceptable for us to let our inefficient bureaucracy prolong the suffering of people who clearly meet the criteria for political asylum.As it stands, the asylum law does not allow quick or easy process of review. However, Alvarado’s journey toward gaining this nation’s protection was especially long and difficult. The blurred conditions of the asylum law concerning women who have been domestically abused is in need of review moving toward a narrower focus that will guide asylum officials and immigration judges to more concrete decisions in future cases. As result, women who seek refuge in the United States will know the verdict of their request sooner and ideally escape these inexcusable abuses.Recently, more refined conditions were sought by the Department of Homeland Security toward the asylum law, and its section that deals with domestically abused women. However, the Bush administration ignored the idea and moved away from immigration reform during their eight years in office.As is widely known, old laws and customs are more apt to change under Obama than they were during the Bush administration. Therefore, we should take advantage of this opportunity and encourage our government to amend our laws on asylum and refine the process for granting asylum, so that we can help put an end to the violent abuse of women around the world.