Tens of thousands of people arrive at the US border, hoping to escape violence, extreme poverty, and displacement due to political, environmental, and other social upheaval in their native countries. There is a tremendous need to provide forensic asylum evaluations for those individuals who seek asylum here. A forensic asylum evaluation is a detailed history and supporting examinations which document evidence of torture or other maltreatment alleged by the asylum seeker.
We believe in the osteopathic mission of serving the underserved. We also understand the importance of exposing medical students to diverse experiences accessible within our state, our country, and the world. Utilizing our medical training, we seek to provide an objective medical, psychiatric, or gynecological assessment for asylum seekers, a most vulnerable population. We believe that this is admirable and highly necessary humanitarian work, providing many opportunities that will benefit the NYITCOM community, as well.
The PHR Asylum Clinic programs provide free training for faculty and students interested in becoming asylum evaluators and “in addition to providing forensic evaluations for asylum seekers in their respective communities, clinics serve to educate the medical community and general public about asylum issues by conducting research, publishing papers, and presenting at conferences” (Ref 1).
The asylum system in the US was first established with the Refugee Act of 1980. “The 1967 United Nations Protocol on Status of Refugees prohibits the US from returning a refugee to a country where his or her life or freedom would more likely than not be threatened… Historically, the US has been the world’s top resettlement country” (Ref 2: US Dept of Homeland Security). Despite recent policy changes, the number of asylum seekers remains high and underserved. New York State receives the highest number of refugees and asylum seekers after California and Texas.
There is, in fact, an increasing backlog of pending asylum cases, currently almost 100,000 cases in NY (Ref 3). The rate of granting asylum without aid from lawyers and physicians is only 35%. However, if a PHR-trained physician provides an asylum evaluation and documentation of physical or psychiatric evidence supporting the asylum seeker’s case, the rate of positive outcome increases to 90% (Ref 4). Those who are denied asylum are returned to the country from which they fled. They are faced with a serious risk of harm when they return, and the outcome too often ends with their death (Ref 5). Therefore, the Asylum Clinic work is indeed life-saving, high-impact work.
Thank you to our Founders
Haeinn Woo, Class of 2021
Maria Nomani, Class of 2020
Amina Kureshi, Class of 2021Courtesy of Dylan Landman
- Student Asylum Clinics. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2020, from https://phr.org/issues/asylum-and-persecution/student-asylum-clinics/
- Lustig, S.L., Kureshi, S., Delucchi, K.L. et al. J Immigrant Minority Health (2008) 10: 7. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-007-9056-8