Asylum News 51

Iraqi Refugees Face Hurdles in Search for Refuge Public attention continues to focus on the plight of refugees who have fled Iraq and those who remain in danger within the country. Two million Iraqis have fled from persecution and violence in Iraq, some targeted because of their ties to the United States. The overwhelming majority of refugees remain in Jordan and Syria, as well as other countries in the region. A small number of Iraqis have fled to the United States. Of the 22,200 Iraqis who sought asylum in industrial countries last year, only 537 filed for asylum in the U.S., according to statistics recently released by the UN refugee agency. Iraqi asylum seekers face the same hurdles that other asylum seekers face, including detention in immigration jails. Once granted asylum, they face the tremendous difficulty of bringing their families to safety in this country. Read New York Times article on Iraqi refugees in the United States (3/11/07) (sub. req.) Read 60 Minutes piece on Iraqi translators and the adequacy of the U.S. response (3/11/07) Read New Yorker article about Iraqi translators fleeing violence (3/26/07) Read more about the refugee crisis Material Support: Medical Professionals and Progress on Waivers The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has opposed the asylum requests of medical professionals who were forced to treat injured rebels. One worker was kidnapped by rebels in Nepal and a nurse was kidnapped and forced to treat a member of an armed group in Colombia. These and other refugees have been prevented from receiving asylum or resettlement in the U.S. under sweeping immigration laws that label innocent refugees as supporters of “terrorist organizations.” Read Washington Post op-ed from Physicians for Human Rights (3/5/07) In the March 6 Federal Register, DHS published notices confirming that the Secretary has decided to exercise his discretion to exempt from the material support bar individuals who have provided support to certain armed groups, and those who have provided support to armed groups under duress. The notices do not apply to those refugees who were the victims of duress by designated or listed “terrorist organizations.” The notices spell out the criteria for qualifying for an exemption, and delegate this authority to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read the March 6 Federal Register notices: Federal Register DHS Material Support Waiver (2/26/07) Federal Register DHS Material Support Waivers (02/20/07) On March 23, USCIS informed refugee organizations that it had exempted four asylum seekers, victims of armed groups in Liberia and Somalia, from the material support bar. These are the first asylum seekers to receive exemptions. USCIS is finalizing procedures to assess exemptions in cases pending before USCIS. With respect to cases pending before the immigration courts, various approaches to implementing the waiver process are being examined. Read the New York Times editorial (3/9/07) (sub. req.) Lawsuits Filed on Detention of Children On March 6, the ACLU, the ACLU of Texas, the University of Texas School of Law Immigration Clinic, and the law firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP filed lawsuits against DHS on behalf of 10 children detained at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas, one of two “family” detention facilities now open in the United States. (See February Asylum News) The lawsuits contend that the conditions inside Hutto violate numerous provisions of Flores v. Meese, a 1997 court settlement that established minimum standards and conditions for the housing and release of all minors in federal immigration custody. For more information, click here Inspector General Reports on “Lifers” In February, the DHS Office of the Inspector General released its report on ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) compliance with detention limits for immigrants who remain detained after receiving final deportation orders. The report documents a range of problems, including that post-order custody reviews were not consistently conducted and that required notifications and reviews were not consistently complete or timely. To read the complete OIG report, click here 2006 State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices On March 6, the U.S. State Department released the 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The reports, presented to Congress, address internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To read the reports, click here


Published on March 1, 2007


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