The Refugee Ball: Why We Celebrate

by Jason Dzubow on January 6, 2017

Response to the Refugee Ball has been overwhelming. It looks like we have essentially reached capacity, and it should be a fantastic event with amazing musicians, artists, and food.

Here, though, I want to talk about what we are celebrating, and why. The “reason for the season,” as it were. The Ball takes place a day after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Dr. King famously said, the “arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Of course, the arc does not bend by itself. People have to work hard to push it in the right direction.

One purpose of the Ball is to celebrate the people who help bend the arc by assisting refugees and asylum seekers: Lawyers, doctors, social workers, activists, students, and advocates.

But more than those of us who are helping refugees and asylum seekers, the purpose of the Ball is to celebrate the refugees and asylum seekers themselves; people who have worked and sacrificed and struggled for justice. Attending the Ball will be activists for democracy and peace and women’s rights, journalists who have stood up for free speech against tyrants, advocates for gay and lesbian rights, members of religious minorities who have risked their lives for their faith, members of oppressed ethnic minorities and oppressed nationalities, interpreters and aid workers who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our own country’s soldiers and diplomats in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. These people—asylum seekers and refugees—have risked their careers, their property, and their lives in order to help bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice.

And so the Ball will celebrate and honor their work. It also gives us an opportunity to express our solidarity with them, and our commitment to them.

Critics of our humanitarian immigration policies claim that asylum is a gift, given to needy people because Americans are nice. They say that we dole out this generous benefit and get nothing in return. This view of asylum is false.

Since its beginning—during the Cold War in the 1950s—asylum was about advancing America’s strategic interests. In those early days, it was about demonstrating our moral superiority to our Soviet adversaries. We celebrated famous dissidents, athletes, and artists who defected to the West.

Now, the Soviet Union is gone, but asylum remains an essential tool of U.S. foreign policy. We gain tangible benefits from asylum. And I am not talking only about the influx of talented, brilliant people who add to our nation’s strength.

When we give asylum to interpreters who served with our soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan, we demonstrate our loyalty to those who work with us. When we grant asylum to women’s rights advocates, we show our support for the cause of gender equality. When we support journalists, we show that we stand for free speech. And when we grant asylum to religious minorities, we reinforce our founding principle of Religious Freedom.

Imagine for a moment what it would mean to deny asylum to Iraqi interpreters, woman’s rights advocates, journalists or members of religious minorities. Imagine what that would say about us, about our country. Imagine what message it would send to those around the world who are working for the values that we, in our best moments, embody.

But when we offer asylum to those who have stood with us, and who have risked their lives to advance the values that we cherish (and which we too often take for granted), we send a powerful message: When you work with us, when you work for the values we believe in, America has got your back. We are with you. And when activists around the world have confidence that America is on their side, it helps them continue their struggle for justice.

And it helps us too. If we want their cooperation and loyalty going forward, our allies need to know that we are there for them. That we will protect them if they need our help. If they do not have confidence in us, they won’t support us. Our asylum and refugee systems demonstrate –in a tangible way—our loyalty to those who stand with us, and this helps us advance our own national interests and moral values.

And so at the Refugee Ball, we will celebrate our humanitarian immigration system. We will celebrate the people who work within that system, and those who have come to our country through that system. We hope to see you there.

To learn more about the Ball, visit our Facebook page.

To donate, please visit our Go Fund Me page.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Syrj January 22, 2017 at 9:51 pm

Hi Jason,

I appied my EAD renewal and living in California and filed in AZ office as per USCIS website, I got the receipt SRC which is Texas , is there any problem or this is a normal procedure to transfer cases between jurisdiction.

Thank you for your help!

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Jason Dzubow January 23, 2017 at 7:08 am

I do not know off-hand the filing locations for EADs in Californian, but assuming you filed at the correct place, it is normal for USCIS to transfer cases around, depending on their work load. The fact that you received the receipt makes me think you filed it correctly, and now you just have to wait for USCIS to process the case. Take care, Jason

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Syrj January 26, 2017 at 11:16 pm

Thank you Jason,

For your information I just received new online update

Case Was Transferred And A New Office Has Jurisdiction

On January 26, 2017, we transferred your Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization , Receipt Number SRC********, to another USCIS office. That office now has jurisdiction over your case. We sent you a notice that explains why we moved your case. Please follow the instructions in the notice.

Thank you

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Jason Dzubow January 29, 2017 at 12:27 pm

It is normal. USCIS transfers cases around depending on workload. Take care, Jason

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XY January 16, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Hi Jason
I have applied for affirmative asylum then after six months i have applied for EAD fr the 1st time.I got the letter from that side that they have recieved my case ND they r working on it.I check my reciept online twice in a week while I was checking my reciept online for ead today they have written over there that they send me an additional evidence letter I have to provide some additional evidence for my EAD application till that they cannot work on my case.wat do u think wats Gona b the additional evidence I have to provide for my EAD to them ?? It vl b a fingerprints or some thing else ??
I m really worried is there any problem or it happens wd every application??

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HA January 18, 2017 at 3:06 am

Hi
Don’t worry, it is normal, many people get this, in my case they asked me for colored copy of my passport, the asked a friend for a colored copy of his US visa, could be something was not included in the application,
Good luck.

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XY January 18, 2017 at 5:04 am

Hi HA
But the copy of passport or US visa is not included in the EAD application only u have to send is the asylum reciept and I think finger print reciept wd ead application. ND after that u did the fingerprints or they just send u the EAD card ND after how many days they send EAD card after this additional evidence they got.
Thanks

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HA January 19, 2017 at 4:36 am

In my case they asked for a colored passport copy, I know somebody personally they asked him for a colored copy of his b2 visa, what I mean don’t panic, could be anything, it is normal.

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Jason Dzubow January 18, 2017 at 7:27 am

Maybe you forgot to include some piece of evidence that they need. My guess is that this will not be a big problem and will not cause much delay (assuming you reply to the letter quickly). Once you get the letter, you will see what they need and you can send it. This situation is not so uncommon, and usually is not something to worry about – just reply to their letter and you should hopefully get the EAD. Take care, Jason

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Daniel January 15, 2017 at 5:41 pm

Hello Jason, I have a quick concern. I have my asylum application pending but I do have my work permit. With advance parole, can I go outside the US? I’m not going back to them country I’m looking asylum for. There was also a period of time that I stayed undomented but I entered the country with visa.

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Jason Dzubow January 18, 2017 at 7:19 am

It is always best to go over the specifics with a lawyer before you leave the US, but from what you write, it sounds like you should be able to travel and return to the United States using advance parole. However, if there are other issues in your case besides the undocumented period of stay, it is worthwhile to talk to a lawyer before you apply for AP. Take care, Jason

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james January 12, 2017 at 3:01 pm

Hey Jason and thanks for your great blogs. I need some advise on one matter. I was granted asylum 2 months ago and this happened when my company had started working on my GC sponsorship. My asylum case was based upon my father being in the opposition, all our entire has been a target form the government. But it seems like finally there will be election late this year and the agreement signed between different political parties is that the current president would not be able to represent himself after being in power for more than 15 years. do you think if the opposition from which my dad is a member win the election, my GC application from my asylum case could be denied and my asylum status taken away based on that change of regime in power? Would you advise me to continue with the company GC sponsorship just in case? Would the fact that I am an asylee affect negatively on my GC sponsorship process with the USCIS?

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Jason Dzubow January 13, 2017 at 7:28 am

If a person has asylum and country conditions improve, the government can take asylum away. It usually does not happen, and so hopefully it will not be a problem for you. But if you have a second option (though the employer), it may make sense to pursue that as well, just in case. Especially with the new administration that may be hostile to asylum seekers, it might be a good idea to have a second option. Take care, Jason

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Rick January 12, 2017 at 1:02 am

Hello Jason, as always thank you for your help!
I’m just wondering if you can explain me one thing.
The expiration date on my i-94 says D/S(durations Status/J1 visa) my DS form says that visa was expired on September 10. I know that J1 visas treated a little bit different. I’m just wondering if are any ways how i can figure out my date of Determination by USCIS.
It’s a little bit weird, cause i don’t even know when my illegal status started….
Thanks.

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Jason Dzubow January 13, 2017 at 7:15 am

D/S means that you are “in status” as long as you are doing the activity that you came here on the J-1 to do. So if you came for a 6-week training program, you are “in status” for 6 weeks. After that (except for the grace period to leave), you are out-of-status. Take care, Jason

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scopa January 11, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Thank you dear,
God bless you!

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Mohamed January 9, 2017 at 3:34 pm

Hi Jason,
I applied for I-131 and today get a message that my application is denied because I am in removal proceedings. My asylum case is still pending. Why am I in removal proceedings? what shall I do?
Regards

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Mohamed January 11, 2017 at 7:40 pm

If I am in the removal proceeding, is it possible to renew my EAD?

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Jason Dzubow January 13, 2017 at 7:03 am

If you have an EAD based on asylum, you should be able to renew it even if your case s transferred to court. Check the I-765 form, as the fee has increased. And try to apply 120 days before the old card expires, in order to avoid a gap between the old and new cards. Take care, Jason

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Jason Dzubow January 12, 2017 at 7:11 am

If you have an asylum case with the asylum office, then maybe something is wrong. You should contact the local asylum office by email or in-person to see what is happening. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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Mohamed January 12, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Thank you Jason,
You are the best helper. I hope I can see you in the ball.
I have pending TPS case, do you think the removal because of this case?
I wrote many letter to Nebraska center
To withdraw it, but no response.

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Jason Dzubow January 13, 2017 at 7:25 am

Sorry – I do not understand the question. If you have TPS, you cannot be removed from the US unless you commit a crime or immigration fraud, or if TPS ends. Take care, Jason

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Oscar P January 9, 2017 at 11:20 am

Good day sir,

I have a situation for you and while I understand you can’t give me a definite answer, I would appreciate your honest opinion. I’m a Honduran gay male, 23 years old. I traveled to the us in my teens years and decided to stay when my visa was about to expire. This was in 2010, the government had just changed and deep inside me I knew I was gay but wasn’t ready to admit it. I was bullied all my life until then just because people thought I was. I finished high school here and entered a community college. But it all caught up to me, I was sent to a psychiatric ward where I spent over a month and then I kept going for therapy for 2 more years. I was diagnosed with BPD, depression and anxiety. However it wasn’t until after therapy that I was ready to come out, it was a very personal issue and I didn’t really discussed with with my therapists.

I came out to my family on December 2015, I wasn’t expecting them to be super ok with it or to kick me out, I thought given some time they would be understanding. That didn’t happen, and every time I bring the topic up they tell me it’s a sin and that I should be ashamed of myself. So I started thinking about my future and how going back to Honduras would be to me. I entered in complete distress. I started talking to a lawyer around June 2016 and my application was received by USICIS on October 18. What chances do you see on my application? I know I took a long time to send my application since I last entered the country, 2010 to 2016. But not so much since coming out and realizing going back there could mean going back to beatings, harrasing, death or completely hiding who I really am.

That was a long read, my apologies.

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Jason Dzubow January 12, 2017 at 7:09 am

I think the number 1 issue in your case will be the one-year bar. You need medical evidence of your mental health issues (I imagine you have that), and I would think you also need a mental-health expert to write a letter further explaining the reasons for the delay. If you can over-come the one-year bar, you probably have a decent chance of winning. You might also consider alternatives to asylum, for example, if you are married to a US citizen, you might be able to leave the US and return with a green card, though that is a bit complicated and you need a lawyer to help you through all the steps. If your case is not successful, and you go to court, there may be other defenses for you besides asylum, such as Cancellation of Removal, but that is a discussion for another day. Just be aware that you may have other options and they are worth exploring with your lawyer. Take care, Jason

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Hery January 9, 2017 at 6:35 am

Hello!
Jason Dzubow

I have applied for asylum two years ago. I am waiting for first hearing but staying with my two daughter make me miserable because I have no any helper to care of them, their father living in home country. Is there a possibility to shorten my waiting time by explain for the judge? or Please give me your best usual advice.

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Mohamed January 11, 2017 at 1:28 am

Make an expedite. Jason has an article about this on October 2014.

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Jason Dzubow January 11, 2017 at 7:19 am

If your case is in court, you can file a motion for an expedited court date. You really do need a lawyer to help with a case in court. It may work, but it depends on the judge. If your case is with the asylum office, you can request an expedited interview. You have to contact the local asylum office to ask about that. You can find their contact into if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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Debian January 8, 2017 at 7:39 pm

Thank you so much Jason!
One question regarding Trump, is there any way he can deport legal asylees? pending or granted ones.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who always stresses about it, and to be more specific, I’m talking about Syrian asylees.

Thank you so much!

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Jason Dzubow January 8, 2017 at 9:05 pm

I think it would be very difficult to do this (I wrote a posting related to this topic on November 9, and maybe that will help). The short answer is that for people in the US, there are due process protections to being deported, and so it will not be very easy for him to deport people who are here and who have already demonstrated a fear of persecution back home. It would require that congress radically change US immigration law, and I do not think that is very likely at all. The people who will have the most trouble are refugees who are not here but who are waiting to come here. I suppose he could make the process more difficult for people with asylum pending, but I am not sure that he is planning to do that (but we do not know his plans). Take care, Jason

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Debian January 10, 2017 at 8:26 pm

Thank you, Jason! I think it is scary just the thought of the law change being proposed to the congress. Hopefully that will never happen but I guess we have to see what’s going to happen. Hope it’s all going to be good.

Thanks again, Jason! Really appreciate your help 🙂

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Elizabeth January 7, 2017 at 11:08 pm

You Jason just made me cry with this excellent piece…thank you my brother,oñly love conquers!

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Jason Dzubow January 8, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Thank you, Jason

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Benedicta January 7, 2017 at 10:15 pm

Thank you for this!!!

“When you work with us, when you work for the values we believe in, America has got your back.” – Jason Dzubow

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Jason Dzubow January 8, 2017 at 4:52 pm

That is how it should be, and I hope that is how it will be going forward. Take care, Jason

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Olsen D. January 7, 2017 at 7:56 pm

Hi Jason! Thank you for your support for asylum seekers.

I do have one question: I live in MI and my asylum case was filed with the Chicago office. My first EAD request was granted by the Phoenix, AZ USCIS office. When I apply for renewal to the Phoenix, AZ service center, they told me that my application is transferred to Potomac (Arlington, VA) service center. Is there any change in how USCIS is processing EAD applications or is there a mistake?

Thank you
Olsen

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Jason Dzubow January 8, 2017 at 4:52 pm

USICS transfers these and other cases around depending on work load. I do not think it is a problem – we see it a lot. If you are facing a long delay getting the card, you can always call USCIS to ask. Their phone number is on their website, http://www.uscis.gov. Take care, Jason

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