Saturday, October 15, 2016

New article in Blade asks individuals to house (or at least "host") asylum seekers

I was at the AGLA brunch at Freddie’s Beach Bar today, discussing Airbnb with someone else, especially Arlington’s proposed new rules, which would modestly regulate it.  I was told that people who use it expect to stay much cheaper than at a hotel and don’t expect perfect, hotel-style housekeeping and services.  They want to “crash” while they go to an important function before flying home.

Soon the discussion turned to the subject of housing asylum seekers (I should have mentioned the “Emergency BNB website set up by a realtor immigrant from Egypt), with which there is at least a cultural connection in terms of who might naturally offer to do it ("Major issues" blog Oct. 1). I got out my cell phone and looked up “Washington Blade asylum seekers” expecting to pull up the Aug. 18 article about Center Global (posting here Aug. 28). Instead I found a new article by Eric Stults “Consider Hosting an LGBT Asylum Seeker”   Again, my own reaction is to think about existential personal risk:  due diligence, legalities, moral hazards (spread to others), stuff I covered on my main blog (Oct. 4).  I’m still going through the process, which involves talking to a number of people and organizations and even lawyers, especially in Virginia.  I think I’ll come back to this in about two weeks.  Actually -- we can quibble about words -- "hosting" is a more inclusive verb than just "housing" (below).

But the Reception on Oct. 6 (see story that day) made no mention of the need for direct housing assistance, other than a remark by one award winner.  I was left with the impression that direct housing assistance was not being actively pursued, because of the risks involved.  But I was wrong, as this article appeared next day in the Blade.  I didn’t see this in print last week.  Did I miss it?  I also haven’t seen it on Facebook or Twitter.

I have the impression that housing an asylum seeker means taking on a dependent – compare it to foster care of sorts.

I would wonder if it would be possible to buy a building as a shelter.  If you got together a number of donors – maybe 30-50 or so, this might be doable.  In Baltimore there is an asylum seeker shelter than mainly houses women.  Maybe something like that could be done in DC or northern VA.
But you can’t go to York PA and offer to bail out an asylee.  DHS won’t talk to you, unless you actually knew the person before he/she came to the US.

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