Invisible Family Separation

By Carol Gomez

As PTV continues to weather the pandemic head on, one of the most pressing issues facing our survivors is the slow-down in the asylum courts. While our country has changed administrations, there are pernicious asylum policies still in place from the former. Notably, the policy modifications replacing the first-in, first-out (FIFO) policy for the last-in, first-out (LIFO). Individuals who had already been waiting for years for an asylum interview have to wait even longer. Until they obtain asylum, individuals cannot petition for visas for their immediate relatives who are often still facing danger.

This has created an “invisible family separation” crisis as many of our survivors have been waiting an average of five or more years just for a hearing. We witness, daily, their uncertain situations – tenuous legal status, not knowing if they can put down permanent roots in this country or be deported back to their homeland. The possibility reuniting with their families, teeters in the balance. Imagine, coupling this with tackling the physical, emotional, and mental wounds of being tortured. This is compounded trauma that can be devastating to just about anyone.

As Einstein once said, “in the middle of difficulty lies great opportunity”, and we at PTV have embraced this moment. In the last few months, we opened dialogues with lawmakers on a federal, state, and local level. PTV also partnered with our sister organization, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC), and our brave survivor community members to share asylum stories and advocate for a return to FIFO.

In the coming months, we will continue to advocate for our asylee, refugee, and immigrant community and we are hopeful that our efforts with our community partners will lead to positive changes and protections for the community. I encourage you to follow us on social media and on the PTV website for updates. If you wish to do more, please call, tweet, write your lawmakers to support a return to FIFO, you will be making a difference in the lives of millions. Be safe and be well, PTV family.