Broken Promises and Lost Dreams: Navigating Asylum in the United States

Author(s): Damir S. UTRŽAN ; Andrea K. NORTHWOOD


Nearly 65 million people around the world have been displaced by war, conflict, and persecution since 2014 (UNHCR; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2015). This yields an average of 42,000 people refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced every day. Displacement has adverse and disruptive consequences, including mental health problems (e.g., anxiety, depression), impaired interpersonal relationships, and heightened conflict. These consequences are compounded by profound ambiguity associated with navigating asylum in the United States. In this article, we describe the treatment of a couple from Syria who is seeking asylum in the United States. Informed by personal and professional experience, this case illustrates how ambiguous loss theory and awareness of relevant legal processes enhance our understanding of working with asylum seekers.

Tags: USA, Syria, Asylum seekers, Asylum procedures, Anxiety, Depression

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