Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


William J. Benet


Asylum seekers in the U.S. have faced a plethora of impediments leading to some of them abandoning their applications, which may deny them their rights under the United Nations convention on refugees. Despite the abundance of literature on the plight of these persons, no study has examined the lived experiences of asylum seekers in the U.S. from the time they apply for asylum to the time their applications are adjudicated. Using Benet's polarities of democracy as the theoretical framework, the purpose of this single participant narrative study was to explore these experiences in order to provide policy makers with a better understanding of the impacts of US Asylum policies on the rights of asylum seekers. The study's single participant was an attorney from the Congo who sought and received asylum in the U.S. Thematic analysis was applied to her responses using hand coding. Cultural challenges were identified as the dominant negative theme in the asylum-seeking process. These cultural challenges generated fear in the face of survival issues such as joblessness, poor housing, hunger, and lack of health care. These interrelated sub-themes, analyzed through the lens of the polarities of democracy, suggest that policy makers might improve the asylum-seeking process by using the theory to better understand the impacts that the process has on the rights of asylum seekers. This may allow policy makers to develop strategies to maximize the positive aspects of the polarities of democracy pairs while minimizing the negative aspects, particularly for the pairs of freedom and authority, justice and due process, and diversity and equality.