by Djamal Diouf
On June 27th, I will celebrate a significant milestone - the one-year anniversary of winning my asylum case here in the United States. This past year has been a remarkable journey, showcasing the power of hope, resilience, and the support I received along the way. Amidst the challenges and uncertainties, Mobile Pathways played a crucial role in my immigration journey.
World Refugee Day reminds us to celebrate and honor the remarkable strength and unwavering courage of millions of refugees worldwide. It also serves as a poignant reminder to reflect upon their resilience in the face of immense challenges and adversity. On this momentous day, I want to not only celebrate my immigration journey but also shed light on the experiences and reflections from the past year. A few years ago, I faced unforeseen immigration rules imposed by the previous administration. These rules, including the Transit Ban and the Remain in Mexico policy, left me stranded in Mexico for two months and three weeks. I was unaware of the legal implications and complexities these policies carried at the time. However, thanks to the assistance of Al Otro Lado, a legal-aid nonprofit based in Tijuana, and Mobile Pathways, I received invaluable legal guidance through text, helping me navigate a complicated immigration system and ensuring my safe and legal entry into the United States.
In the year since my asylum victory, I have put hope into action and joined advocacy efforts for thousands of other asylum seekers willing to traverse the depths of danger to reach safe asylum. Last month, I had the privilege of joining Mobile Pathways’ new Program Director, Ana Ortega-Villegas, in Washington, D.C., along with nearly 300 other immigration and human rights advocates from across the country. Ana has a reputable history as a human rights advocate. Together, we met with congressional staffers from California and Maryland and raised questions in support of various humanitarian protection programs and related legislation. One of our policy asks included supporting the soon-to-be-introduced Refugee Protection Act (RPA).
This crucial legislation aims to address and improve the current refugee protection system. By advocating for the RPA, we sought to amplify the voices of those who have fled persecution and violence, ensuring their access to safety, justice, and fair opportunities for rebuilding their lives. Our conversations with congressional staffers provided an invaluable platform to raise pertinent questions, share insights, and advocate for policies that uphold the rights and well-being of refugees. Being able to use our collective voices to advocate for refugee protection was a poignant reminder for me of the value of our work in immigration rights. Attending the D.C. event reinforced our belief that everyone deserves fair access to justice to live a better life.
My journey through the U.S. immigration system has laid bare the harsh realities of a flawed and unjust system. When I arrived at the southern border in 2019, filled with hope for safety and refuge, I was met with a cold response, forced to remain in Mexico, and exposed to unimaginable danger. However, in 2022, I witnessed a different treatment afforded to other groups of refugees. The U.S. provided some nationalities automatic parole entry while others had to wade through a lottery system. Discrimination based on origin played a role in the disparate experiences. Yet, let us remember that all wars and conflicts are equally heart-wrenching, regardless of the nation they occur in. We must strive for a system that embodies justice and equality for all asylum seekers, irrespective of their background.
Through collective action and a unified voice, we can advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, raise awareness about the challenges refugees face worldwide, and support organizations dedicated to providing aid and protection. Let us work tirelessly towards a future where compassion and fairness prevail, ensuring that the U.S. immigration system lives up to its promise of justice for all.
As we continue our efforts to be the bridge connecting immigrants to advocates and services via trusted mobile technology, we encourage you to stay connected and informed about future events and initiatives. Please follow our LinkedIn and YouTube pages.