Asylum News 58
Material Support: Hmong and Montagnard Waivers On October 20, 2007, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff authorized waivers of the “material support” provisions of the immigration law for individuals who provided “material support,” prior to December 31, 1992, to the Vietnamese Montagnard group Front Unifié de Lutte des Races Opprimées. On the same day, Secretaries Rice and Chertoff issued a waiver exempting individuals who had provided material support to Hmong groups or individuals prior to December 31, 2004. These waivers will allow Hmong and Montagnard refugees already in the United States, who had been prevented from becoming permanent residents for years now, to finally adjust their status and become legal permanent residents. The waivers will also allow other refugees who are abroad to be resettled in the U.S. To read the State Department press releases on these waivers, click here and here. To read the Southeast Action Resource Center press release on these waivers, click here. Hearings on Detention On October 4, 2007, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law held a hearing on the issue of medical care for immigrants in detention. The hearing addressed the medical care that immigrant detainees, who have often fled trauma and torture in their home country, receive in immigration detention centers. Both advocates and former detainees testified on the need for better access and closer attention to medical care for immigrants in detention. To read the witnesses’ testimony or listen to a webcast of the hearing, click here. On October 12, 2007, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held a hearing concerning U.S. detention of immigrants and asylum seekers. The event marked the first time that the Commission held a hearing on the subject of immigration detention. Witnesses included advocates from the Rights Working Group and the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children. To read the testimony of the Women’s Commission and the Rights Working Group, click here. To read Human Rights First’s submission describing how U.S. detention of asylum seekers is arbitrary under international law, click here. Iraqi Refugee Update The fiscal year for U.S. refugee resettlement ended on September 30, 2007. In early October, the U.S. announced that it had resettled 1608 Iraqi refugees over the prior twelve months. The number is far below the 7000 goal announced by the U.S. earlier in the year. The Departments of Homeland Security and State announced a modest resettlement goal of 12,000 Iraqi refugees for the next 12 months. Over 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes. Syria also announced that it would require Iraqis to have visas to enter their country. The vast majority of Iraqi refugees no longer have any way to flee from Iraq. Read: Syria Shuts Main Exit From War for Iraqis, The New York Times – 10/21/2007 Human Rights First is working to secure a comprehensive response to the Iraqi refugee crisis. For more information about the issue and HRF’s Lifeline for Iraqi Refugees Project, click here. Board Decision in FGC Case: Matter of A-K- On September 5, 2007, the Board of Immigration Appeals reversed a grant of withholding of removal to a Senegalese father whose claim rested on his fear that his U.S. citizen daughters would be subject to genital cutting (FGC) in Senegal. The case, known as A-K-, was designated as a “precedent decision.” On September 30, 2007, the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS) updated its practice advisory to include a discussion and analysis of this case. To read the full opinion, click here. To read the CGRS practice advisory, click here. Annual Frankel Awards for Law Firms Announced at HRF Dinner At its annual dinner on October 15, 2007, Human Rights First announced that it had selected two law firms to receive its annual Marvin Frankel award for their outstanding pro bono work and contributions to the work of Human Rights First. The firms selected were Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Lowenstein Sandler PC. The firms have provided high quality legal representation to indigent asylum seekers, including to asylum seekers held in immigration detention. For more information on the Marvin Frankel Award, click here.