Asylum News 54
Iraqi Refugee Crisis On June 19, Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) introduced the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act, which would provide safe haven in the United States to some of those Iraqis who are at risk because of their work with the United States or with U.S. organizations. The bill would also encourage assistance for refugees living in exile in the region. Since 2003, more than 2.2 million Iraqis have fled violence and persecution in their homeland, and another 2 million are displaced within Iraq. To learn more about the bipartisan bill and the Iraqi refugee crisis, click here. To read Human Rights First’s press release in response to the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act, click here. To read Sen. Kennedy’s press release and fact sheet on the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act (6/19/07), click here. To read the June 24 Washington Post op-ed by Julia Taft, who served as director of the Interagency Task Force for Indochinese Refugee Resettlement during the Ford administration and as assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration from 1997 to 2001, click here. Urge your senators to support the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act Asylum Seekers Prosecuted for Use of False Passports Sometime those who flee from persecution must resort to the use of false passports in order to escape to a country where they can seek refuge. The 1951 Refugee Convention and Protocol, which the U.S has committed to abide by, prohibit states from penalizing refugees because of their illegal entry. Despite this commitment, asylum seekers are sometimes prosecuted for using false documents to come to this country in search of refuge. To read the Albany Times Union article (6/19/07) about the prosecution of asylum seekers, click here. World Refugee Day June 20 was World Refugee Day. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres remarked that World Refugee Day is “the occasion to remember those tens of millions of refugees and others who have been forcibly displaced, and to recall what makes them different. In an age of increasing globalization, when more and more people are on the move, refugees are not unique because they are away from home. What sets them apart is that they cannot return there.” The day was celebrated in events all over the world. For more information, see the web site of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Human Rights First joined with other New York and New Jersey area groups to cosponsor a celebration in New York City on Saturday, June 23. Material Support Update: USCIS Announces Process for Cases Before USCIS At a June 11 Asylum Office liaison meeting, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service shared information and guidance with legal service providers concerning the manner in which it intends to implement waivers of the “material support” bar to certain categories of cases pending before USCIS – specifically to individuals who provided support to eight groups identified by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on February 20, 2007, and to individuals who provided support under duress to un-designated (Tier III) organizations. For more information, click here to read the guidance and notices provided by USCIS. Only four asylum cases have been extended waivers so far. USCIS is currently training its staff to assess exemptions. USCIS will then move forward and assess exemptions in various cases that have been on hold, including asylum cases, NACARA cases, and refugee and asylee adjustment applications. For individuals who provided support under duress to designated (Tier I and II) “terrorist organizations,” a USCIS fact sheet stated that USCIS will only begin to assess these individuals after DHS has “identified” the specific organizations for consideration of exemptions. No organizations have yet been identified. There is not yet a process for assessing exemptions in cases pending before the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the federal courts. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security continue to examine alternate approaches.