Even as Russian tourists continue to visit Guam, so do Russian asylum seekers.
According to a Guma San Jose Homeless Shelter report, a number of Russian families applying for political asylum sought shelter with the Catholic Social Services-run facility.
For instance, CSS reported that there was a Russian man who asked for assistance applying for jobs while waiting for his asylum papers to clear.
CSS also reported a Russian married couple with two minor children who were staying at a church after they were evicted from their rental apartment.
According to the report, this family came to Guam and the husband had a work permit and a social security card. However, the wife does not have a social security card nor a work permit, allegedly due to a mistake in processing by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“They receive SNAP, Medicaid and MIP. Neither of them is currently employed despite numerous job applications. A 13-year-old son was not attending school due to out of district and lack of transportation,” the report stated.
The family is not eligible for GHURA housing but Guma San Jose plans to enter them into the Salvation Army’s ESG program as soon as the wife gets her social security card.
According to the report, there is another Russian couple with three minor children who are also seeking asylum. The oldest child is autistic, his mom is pregnant again, while the head of household is diabetic. The pregnant mom was brought to the emergency room twice while the father was hospitalized due to diabetes. They have medical bills of over $15,000.
On the rise
According to American Corporate Services – Immigration & Business Services, the number of people from other countries seeking asylum in the United States is on the rise because of the economic and political unrest around the globe.
Because Guam is the nearest U.S. soil for these countries and because citizens of Russia and several other countries are permitted to travel to Guam without a visa, many attempt to enter the U.S. through Guam.
But American Corporate Services – Immigration & Business Services warns that Guam is not a shortcut because there is no infrastructure to handle asylum requests in Guam. Although the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has a Field Office in Guam, that office is an outpost of the U.S. District 26 Office in Honolulu.
Moreover, asylum processing is done through the Los Angeles Immigration Court System and asylum seekers on Guam will find themselves in a logistical nightmare when they discover that they are not allowed to travel to the U.S. mainland until after their application for asylum has been approved.
This has resulted in asylum seekers spending more time on Guam and further straining the island’s already overburdened public social services.
Even the island’s village mayors have been helping out. Dededo mayor Melissa Savares recently informed the Patti Arroyo show at K-57 that her office has been providing food and shelter to some of the Russian asylum seekers.
Tamuning Mayor Louise C. Rivera, in an interview with PNC News, said her office has been helping out too.
“People come out of the airport and for the Russian asylum seekers, I am the first office that they come to because I am the mayor’s office nearest to the airport. And sometimes when it’s after hours, after five, and because our gym is still open, they’ll come and ask for help. They ask for food and shelter. They wanna stay here in the gym or they just want to stay in our park,” she said.
The mayor added: “They’re stating that they’re here for vacation. And then the next thing you know they run out of money and then they cannot go back because they’re applying for asylum. And because they are not U.S. citizens, they can’t avail of many social services.”