Ten Things To Know



One. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, one out of every 113 people globally has been forcibly displaced. From American and African deserts to European and Asia seas, many of the world’s 65 million forcibly displaced die in passage or struggle to live dignified lives in their new homes.

Two. America’s tradition of welcome and international cooperation is under threat. In addition to Trump’s travel ban and a drastic drop in refugee resettlement, the US recently decided to withdraw from the UN Global Compact on Refugees and Migrants - a non-binding international strategy for protecting and integrating refugees and migrants.

Three. Asylum seekers enter the United States as forced migrants. They are all fleeing persecution in their home countries, based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group (such as LGBTQ individuals), or their political opinion.

Four. Over half of these forcibly displaced people globally live in cities. In New York City, approximately 30,000 people arrive to seek asylum annually, says RIF Asylum Support.

Five. Asylum seekers must wait one year before they can acquire a work permit, causing many to become economically destitute and homeless. This reality is often compounded with trauma and mental health issues, language barriers, and  discrimination.  

Six. Unlike in other countries, UNHCR does not offer services or implement the internationally-recognized refugee status determination process. The federal government also has no system to house, train, or meet the most basic needs of asylum seekers upon arrival.

Seven. An asylum seeker with a lawyer has a fifty percent chance of winning their case. Those who cannot secure legal representation are forced to defend their claim alone. They have a one in ten chance of being granted protection. In 2017, only 20.6% of asylum seekers in the US had  legal representation.

Eight. We know asylum seekers who have waited five years for a decision on their case.  One advocate we work with has called the legal process to access asylum a “weaponized system of bureaucracy.”

This infographic by Human Rights First explains this process:


Nine. Many US cities  - including New York City - have  declared themselves a Sanctuary City in response to restrictive federal laws.  Residents of these cities have stepped up to the plate to offer sanctuary through housing, legal counsel, career guidance, and other services.

Ten. Asylee Designs is using design thinking methods to devise new solutions to these numerous challenges. We will use empathy, community research, and experimentation to arrive at innovative solutions that are created by asylum seekers, for asylum seekers. Design thinking methods will allow our team to build projects based on the actual experiences, ideas, and dreams of the asylum seeker community.