As I write, we still have no decision, and the election rests on the edge of knife. Perhaps Joe Biden will manage to pull out a win, but I am personally feeling deeply pessimistic. Once again Donald Trump has proved the pollsters wrong and he and his fellow Republicans have exceeded expectations. There will be time later to ask "What Happened?" (as Hillary Clinton did after the 2016 election), but here I want to reflect on a few more personal notes.

First, for me at least, yesterday was not all bad. My intrepid associate and I were in Immigration Court representing a gay man from Russia. His case was pretty typical: He suffered many threats (in person and spray painted on his door), he was beaten up a few times (once ending up in the hospital for three days), ostracized by his schoolmates, mentally and physically abused by his parents. You know, the usual for a gay person in Russia. He also happens to be a popular blogger, with some of his posts garnering close to one million views, but this work was done anonymously and so was not something we could hang our hat on. After testimony, DHS opposed asylum. The Immigration Judge explained his reasoning and why he felt that the harm suffered rose to the level of persecution. He also explained why country condition evidence convinced him that there was a likelihood of future harm. After he explained himself, the DHS attorney agreed not to appeal and our client walked out of court as an asylee.

Having done enough of these cases, I can tell a strong case from a weak one, and this case was fairly strong, and so I believe the outcome was correct under existing law and precedent. But there is more here than that. The Immigration Judge listened to our client, and so did DHS. They were polite and professional. They were respectful. The DHS attorney challenged my client on certain portions of his story. That is her job and she did it courteously but firmly. In short, the system worked for my client because the IJ and the DHS attorney respect the rule of law and believe in due process. When I have a case with this judge and with this government attorney, I know that even if my client loses (which we sometimes do), we will have been heard and treated fairly. This is Justice. And though our immigration system is under daily assault, Justice can sometimes still be found almost four years into the Trump Presidency.

Second, as I was perusing Facebook during my copious free time, I noticed a photo posted by a former asylum client, now a U.S. citizen. He was voting. Then I saw another, and another.

Once a person wins asylum, she must wait one year before applying for a Green Card. Once she applies, it used to take about a year to get the approval. Lately, that wait time has increased to over three years. Once the asylee gets a Green Card, she must wait four years to file for citizenship. The citizenship application typically takes another year or two. Finally, the former asylee becomes a United States citizen. So from asylum grant to U.S. citizenship can take anywhere from six to eight years, or more (and remember, before that, most people waited a few years to get asylum, so the total journey can easily be 10 or 12 years).

I have been in the business long enough that a number of my asylum clients are now citizens. Since my Facebook skills are such that I do not know how to block them from becoming my "friends" (I'm thinking of you, Ali), I get to see what they are up to here in the States.

The voters I saw were a woman's rights activist who created an organization to educate hundreds of young women and girls in Afghanistan. She was threatened by the Taliban and forced to flee to the United States. There were veterans of the Green Revolution in Iran--activists who stood up to that vicious regime in an effort to move their country towards democracy. There was a democracy activist from Egypt and a journalist from Pakistan. There were family members of a diplomat who was assassinated in his country.

Most of these new citizens continue to engage in political activity to support democracy and human rights in their homelands. All are working productively in the United States.

Whatever the results of the election, and whatever the opinion of my fellow Americans about asylum seekers and refugees, I know the truth because I see it with my own eyes every day. Asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants are some of the most patriotic people I know. They contribute mightily to our nation. And despite all its flaws, they still believe in America, and in the American dream. Their goodness and their faith help me to try to believe as well.

Originally posted on the Asylumist: