For lack of a room, Russian asylum seekers have not been able to move their cases forward.
A group of Russian asylum seekers held a peaceful protest outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building on Friday in an effort to push the federal government to act on their cases so that they can contribute to the community and just be able to survive on the island.
Egor Elkin was one of 22 Russian asylum seekers that fled their homeland out of fear of persecution. He first arrived on Guam May of last year but others in the group have been here since 2018 with no movement in their cases.
Elkin attributes the delays to renovations at the Guam international airport where the hearings were once held.
According to Elkin, the last time the Honolulu Immigration judge heard any case was in April of 2019. Since then, it’s been a struggle for asylum seekers trying to survive on the island.
“So instead of organizing any other room, they just … you know … left us here for an unknown, uncertain amount of time. So what we are trying to do is to make these people do their job give us a room where we as asylum seekers can get a video conference with Hawaii Honolulu immigration court right now to get our cases processed,” Elkin said.
While the pandemic has put a number of island residents out of work, these asylum seekers don’t even have the right to work.
The ICE hearings will determine their future and whether they are eligible for asylum in this country. If so, they’ll be able to get their paperwork and be allowed to work.
“We also want to address the governor or senator of this island because we want to be a part of the Guam community … to contribute to this island. We can not do that unless we get work authorization,” Elkin said.