Asylum News 55
GAO Finds Lack of Phone Access for Detainees On July 6, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report entitled “Alien Detention Standards.” GAO had been asked to review U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s implementation of detention standards given the recent significant increase in the numbers of detained immigrants in the United States. GAO found the most consistently serious problems in telephone access for detainees. To read the abstract or the complete report, click here. Read July 6 Washington Post editorial on treatment of immigrant detainees Read July 19 Washington Post letter to the editor from HRF Refugee Protection Program Director Eleanor Acer on lack of fair release process for asylum seekers Update: Iraqi Refugee Crisis Public attention continued to focus on the plight of Iraqi refugees and asylum seekers over the last month. As World Refugee Day passed on June 20, CNN profiled the stories of various Iraqis, including those who have worked for the U.S. government and the U.S. media. To watch one of these pieces, profiling a U.S. asylum seeker who is represented by pro bono attorneys working with Human Rights First, click here. A July 19 piece on USA Today’s web site, authored by Lanny J. Davis and Michael Medved, urged that those who supported and those who opposed the war – indeed, “all people of goodwill” – should recognize “America’s moral obligation to open our doors – immediately – to Iraqis who face danger and death because of their assistance to our forces.” To read the complete piece, click here. Support the bi-partisan “Refugee Crisis in Iraq” bill, introduced on June 19 by Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR), 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. To learn more about the Iraqi refugee crisis, click here. Update: Material Support More than six months after the January 2007 public announcement that the Department of Homeland Security would consider asylum seekers for exemptions from the “material support” bar, DHS and the Department of Justice have still not announced a process for assessing these exemptions in cases pending before the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, or the federal courts. On July 19, Human Rights First wrote to senior DHS and DOJ officials urging that an exemption process for these cases be implemented without further delay. Human Rights First flagged the cases of individual asylum seekers whose separations from their families – or their time in immigration detention – have been prolonged over the last few years as immigration officials have considered approaches to addressing this problem. As reported in last month’s Asylum News, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced a process for assessing exemptions for “material support” cases pending before that bureau. Click here to read the guidance and notices provided by USCIS. To read the July 15 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette op-ed by HRF Senior Counsel Anwen Hughes on the impact of the material support bar on child soldiers, click here. New EOIR Codes of Conduct The Executive Office for Immigration Review has proposed new Codes of Conduct for immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals. EOIR is seeking public comment on the Codes. The deadline for submitting comment is July 30, 2007. To review the Codes and for instructions on submitting comments, click here. 2007 World Refugee Survey The U.S. Committee on Refugees and Immigrants has released its 2007 World Refugee Survey, which includes country-specific statistics and analysis of the treatment of refugees all over the world. To access the survey, click here: Asylee Adjustment Instructions U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently clarified its filing instructions for asylee adjustment of status applications. Effective July 30, the applications should be filed at either the Nebraska Service Center or the Texas Service Center, depending on the home state of the applicant. Applicants living in New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia should file at the Texas Service Center. For complete instructions, click here. Please note that USCIS’s new filing fees also go into effect on July 30.