Asylum News 62
Refugee Crisis In Iraq Act Signed By President Bush On January 28, 2008, President Bush signed into law H.R. 4986, the Department of Defense Authorization Act, which includes a provision called the “Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007.” This new law makes it easier for U.S.-affiliated Iraqis and some other at-risk Iraqis to access resettlement, including provisions for direct access to the U.S. refugee resettlement program for Iraqis who worked with the U.S. government, contractors, NGOs, and media; direct access to resettlement for designated Iraqi religious minorities with family in the United States; provisions for 25,000 special immigrant visas (SIVs) with resettlement assistance for Iraqis over the course of the next five years; and “in-country” processing in Iraq. The law also gives Iraqis whose asylum claims were denied on or after March 1, 2003, on the basis of changed country conditions, a six-month window to file a motion to reopen their cases. To read the Human Rights First press release on the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007, listing major provisions, click here. To read the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007, click here. Human Rights First Creates Resources Page For Iraqi Refugees Human Rights First has launched a Resources page for Iraqi refugees in the region and their family members or friends in the U.S. If you know of someone seeking assistance with resettlement, please check here for potential resources or contact a local refugee resettlement organization or affiliate. Concern Over ICE Parole Directive On February 19, 2008, Human Rights First and over 80 organizations and legal experts sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expressing concern over the parole directive issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in November. The letter expresses concern that the directive is inconsistent with the recommendations of the bi-partisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and with this country’s commitments to those who seek protection from persecution. February 8, 2008 marked the three-year anniversary of the issuance of USCIRF’s report on asylum seekers in expedited removal and detention. DHS has still not issued a response to the USCIRF report, though some steps have been taken in response to the report. In its report, USCIRF had recommended that DHS put the existing parole criteria into regulations. Instead, ICE issued the November 2007 directive which changed the criteria for parole for asylum seekers. The USCIRF chair wrote to Secretary Chertoff on December 14, 2007, to express concern that the directive is inconsistent with the Commission’s recommendations on the detention and parole of asylum seekers. To read the December 14, 2007 USCIRF letter, click here. To read the February 19, 2008 letter from HRF and other groups, click here. To learn more, click here. House Hearing On Immigration Detention On February 13, 2008, the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law held a hearing on “Problems with ICE Interrogation, Detention, and Removal Procedures.” Among the issues addressed at the hearing was the deportation of U.S. citizens, including the deportation to Mexico of a cognitively impaired U.S. citizen. The expert witnesses agreed that one major systemic problem that negatively impacts ICE’s operations is the delegation of high-level decisions to low-level agents. For more information on the hearing, including hearing testimony, click here.