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AHRC ADVISORY: Rights with the Media: A Guide for People Seeking Asylum in the U.S.

Your Rights with the Media: A Guide for People Seeking Asylum

As Title 42 ends and things change at the border, there will be many reporters at Ports of Entry as you wait to cross into the United States.

If you feel comfortable, sharing your story with the media can be empowering. It can help politicians and people in the U.S. understand the experiences of people seeking asylum and immigrants better. However, sharing your story is a personal decision that is completely up to you. No one should ever feel pressured to speak with reporters or share personal information.

This document is intended to help you better understand your rights when you interact with reporters and members of the press.

  • You can always decline to speak to reporters. You can always ask reporters not to take your photo or record videos of you, or to only photograph you in a way that doesn’t show your face.

  • Before you agree to be interviewed, ask the reporter:

    • what radio or newspaper or TV show they are from

    • what their story is about

    • what specific questions they want to ask you

    • how you will be identified

  • You can ask the reporter not to publish your name, or to use only your first name, initials, or an alias (a different name in place of your own to protect your identity).

    • You should ask how you will be identified before you start answering their questions. We recommend that you do not give reporters your full name to protect your privacy and future immigration case.

    • We recommend you avoid sharing information that could make you easy to identify, such as the full names of family members, the city or town you come from (especially if it is a place with a small population), or your place of work in your home country.

  • Even if you agree to be interviewed, you do not have to answer any questions that you don’t feel comfortable answering. You can always say, “I do not feel comfortable answering that question.”

  • They may ask to record you for their notes. You can say yes or no to this, and you can ask them not to publish video or audio of you speaking if you prefer.

  • You can end the interview at any time.

Other Things to Keep In Mind

  • Use caution sharing specifics about why you left your home or why you are seeking protection in the United States.

    • It could negatively impact your immigration case if anything you say in court later does not match up exactly with what you told a reporter.

    • You may want to avoid sharing details about specific incidents (including dates and locations) and people involved, especially if you’re not entirely sure.

  • Use caution sharing specifics about your location now, including where you are staying, because it could impact your safety.

  • Don’t agree to an interview in a language that you are not comfortable speaking.

    • If you misunderstand a question or a reporter misunderstands you, it could lead to your words being misinterpreted and inaccurate information about you being published.

General Red Flags

  • If you feel like you are being pressured or are uncomfortable with a reporter or the questions they are asking you, you can end the interview at any time or decline to talk to the reporter at all. Reputable reporters will not pressure you. Trust your instincts.

AT AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COALITION: when asked what our interview advisory is we tend to advise that people do not talk to press until after their cases have been fully adjudicated, unless one is certain of anonymity and that identifying factors are not available to government so as you are fully protected from any misunderstandings or prejudice.

Thank you to colleagues for this information


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