The Asylum Paradox

Ilbouto Micheline began listing the countries represented by the little flags lined up on the mantelpiece of the former church rectory where she lives: Cameroon, Guatemala, Ethiopia. These are the places where Micheline’s current and former housemates fled from — immigrants who have won asylum from 42 countries over the past year.

Micheline pointed to the flag of Burkina Faso, the western African nation that she escaped amid life-threatening violence four years ago. Today, she lives in and manages this two-story home known as The Lighthouse, a temporary residence in Jersey City, for those released from immigration detention after seeking asylum to stay in the United States.

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