‘Every Day I Fear’: Asylum Seekers Await Their Fate in a Clogged System

Name, age, country: Mamadou, 41, Guinea

Asylum claim: Mamadou was a high-profile activist who was targeted by the opposition party in his country, and whose family endured violence as a result of his political opinions.

Time in the United States: Five years

Work permit: Yes

Government soldiers in Guinea who were determined to capture Mamadou poured scalding oil on his baby when they came searching for him in his family’s home in 2015, he claimed. Mamadou was already in the United States, where he had applied for asylum.

If the activist, who lives in the Bronx, wins his case, his family can join him. But three years later, his case has not yet been reviewed by a judge.

“Every second, every day I fear for the safety of my child and wife,” said Mamadou, who asked that his last name be withheld out of concern for his family. “I am very distressed. So much time has already passed, and the situation in my country is only getting worst.”

His lawyer, Carmen Maria Rey, is confident that her client has a strong claim, if only it would be adjudicated.

Name, age and country: Denis Davydov, 32, Russia

Asylum claim: Mr. Davydov, who is gay and H.I.V. positive, left his country because L.G.B.T. individuals face increasingly harsh treatment there.

Time in the United States: Four and a half years

Work permit: Yes

Mr. Davydov, who is living in San Jose, Calif., has been waiting since the spring of 2015 for his asylum case to be heard. Two years ago, he was detained by customs agents who believed he had overstayed his visa. He was held in detention in Miami for 45 days before he was released. His next hearing is scheduled for July.

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