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Freedom House continues to settle refugees amid President Trump’s shifting priorities

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The Trump administration intends to restrict the flow of refugees and immigrants into the United States, causing concern for organizations that help refugees and asylum seekers.

Detroit’s Freedom House is one such organization. The former convent houses asylum seekers, supporting and guiding them through the process of gaining asylum status.

Listen to the full conversation above, or read highlights below.

Deborah Drennan, executive director of Freedom House, and Robyn Vincent, a freelance journalist producing audio profiles of Freedom House residents, joined Stateside to discuss the realities facing asylum seekers today.

What does Freedom House do?

Freedom House is a one-stop-shop for asylum seekers. In addition to helping people apply for asylum, “Freedom House provides the housing, food, [and] all the comprehensive services” throughout the process, Drennan said. “In fact,” she said, “90 percent of our residents exit our program self-sufficient.”

How has seeking asylum changed in the Trump era?

In order to earn asylum, an applicant must prove “credible fear” for living in or returning to their home country. Under Trump’s administration, Drennan said, challenges to the legitimacy of those claims have become a greater obstacle.

What do Freedom House residents make of President Trump’s rhetoric?

“Many of [the residents] come from countries where this kind of blatant oppressive voice is common,” Drennan said. Nevertheless, asylum seekers are surprised to encounter this type of behavior in the United States.

Audio profiles of Freedom House residents

Robyn Vincent is a freelance journalist producing audio profiles of Freelance House residents. Drennan believes the residents are ready to share their story. Vincent, for her part, is “interested in dispelling this notion of ‘the other.’” Her first piece will focus on the positive impact refugees have on the local economy. 

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