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Border Update: What does a new administration mean for asylum seekers at the border?

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

Return to Mexico

Since 2018, the United States’ “Remain in Mexico” program has forced those who are seeking asylum in the United States to do just that. Instead of waiting for their claims to be adjudicated in the United States, where many have family or close friends with whom they could safely shelter, thousands are currently forced to wait in makeshift “pup tents” on the US-Mexico border. These camps lack basic necessities, such as proper hygiene and sanitation, adequate protection against extreme temperatures, and physical safety.

Despite reneging on a pledge to reverse this policy “on day one,” many humanitarian organizations at the border are still expecting an increase in attempted crossings under the incoming administration. Though the Biden administration has been softer in its rhetoric, it is unclear exactly what policy changes they will implement. Ultimately, those who seek to support refugees and asylum seekers during this transition should be prepared for anything.

Despite the “Remain in Mexico” legislation, and several other policies designed to deter asylum seekers from attempting to cross into the United States (such as the controversial 2018 family separation policy), the devastation of COVID-19 across communities in Mexico and Central America, as well as two recent, disastrous hurricanes, have led to recent spikes in those seeking asylum. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the need for adequate shelter and sanitation is more urgent than ever. And the virus doesn’t just impact physical health; many programs that previously filled the gaps in basic social and emotional services for asylum seekers have been forced to suspend or greatly reduce their operations in order to adhere to quarantining and social distancing measures to slow the spread of the virus.

One Digital World understands the urgency of providing digital services to refugees and asylum seekers. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, One Digital World was working to equip asylum seekers with valuable digital literacy skills that will help prepare them for an increasingly digital job market. In a post-COVID world, these skills will be more essential than ever. As more and more industries transition to online platforms, it is essential that asylum seekers learn how to access these services. Services such as online ESL classes, legal services, and job training are often lifelines for those seeking to successfully integrate into the United States after resettlement. Those who are better integrated and more self-sufficient are not only able to benefit themselves and their families, but they also can better contribute to our communities at large, by working and participating actively in community life.

With so many people’s lives turned upside down by the pandemic, and by the constant changes to our immigration policy, it is essential that we do our part to support them. One Digital World is responding to the need to pivot by working to bolster our digital literacy programs and expanding partnerships. Will you do our part to help us help refugees and asylum seekers?

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