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The United States Immigration and Nationality Act defines a refugee in section 101(a)(42) as a person who has fled from his or her country of residence, and is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.[1] The term “persecution” includes severe and credible threats to life or freedom, extreme physical or emotional harm, and arbitrary detention, among other experiences of violence or torture enacted by the government or with the consent of the government. 

An asylum seeker is someone who has fled from his or her country but has not yet been granted refugee status in the United States. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there were about 83,400 asylum applications to the US in 2012.[2] To date, there are thought to be over 400,000 foreign-born torture survivors living in the United States, of which a significant proportion reside in the New York metropolitan area.[3] For this reason, WCCHR is uniquely situated to assist this population in the daunting process of attaining legal asylum in the U.S.

[1] 8 U.S. Code 1101- Definitions. Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School. Link

[2] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 2013. UNHCR Asylum Trends 2012. Link

[3] Hexom, B., Fernando, D., Manini, A. F., & Beattie, L. K. (2012). Survivors of Torture: Prevalence in an Urban Emergency Department. Academic Emergency Medicine19(10), 1158-1165.

 

 

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Weill Cornell Center for Human Rights
Weill Cornell Medical College
1300 York Avenue, Box #2
New York, NY  10065

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