Earlier this month, the European Union reported a backlog of nearly 800,000 applications for asylum. The backlog would take a year to clear even if the flow of migrants stopped. In the United States, asylum seekers can face a wait time of more than a year for an interview. To qualify for asylum, you have to prove that you have a fear of persecution in your country of nationality based on race, religion, social group or political opinion.
In Los Angeles, officials interviewed people last month who applied for asylum in August of 2011. Similar wait times exist across the United States.
The interview is just one step in the multi-part screening, which puts many applicants in financial and legal limbo. Manal Elias is Syrian and she is currently waiting for her interview in Los Angeles. She came to the United States for a masters program and talks about what she hopes her life will be — if she’s granted asylum.
Click the above audio player to hear the full interview.
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