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1M Immigrants Seeking Asylum Under Biden Must Wait Seven Years

In a modest hotel in South Portland, Me., most rooms have been occupied this summer by families from African countries seeking asylum — 192 adults and 119 children. They are among more than one million undocumented immigrants allowed into the U.S. temporarily after crossing the border during President Biden’s tenure, the New York Times reports.

Different from the hundreds of thousands who have entered undetected, many of the one million are hoping for asylum — a long shot — and must wait seven years on average before a decision on their case is reached because of the clogged immigration system.

The Maine hotel is among a handful in the region offering temporary housing for hundreds of new immigrants. Maine allows asylum seekers to receive financial support for rent and other expenses. In May, Portland officials said the city could no longer guarantee shelter for newly arrived asylum seekers because emergency housing was at capacity.

The immigration debate usually focuses on the surging numbers of people seeking to cross the southwestern border. Less attention has been paid to what happens to those who are released from custody to await immigration court hearings and who end up scattered around the nation.

It takes about a year before the federal government grants asylum seekers permission to work, and there is no funding to help support them in the meantime, as there is for refugees.

The Times says these immigrants are integrating into communities, sending their children to public schools and eventually paying taxes and contributing to the economy.

The million who have been allowed in since Biden took office — a figure from internal Homeland Security data and court filings — are from more than 150 countries.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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