Asylum News 61
Material Support Waiver Legislation On December 26, 2007, President Bush signed into law an appropriations bill that included a provision expanding the discretionary authority of the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to exempt certain persons and groups from the application of the immigration law’s “terrorism”-related provisions. This amendment also removes a limited list of named organizations from the immigration law’s definition of a “terrorist organization.” While the overly broad immigration law definitions that have mislabeled many refugees and asylum seekers as supporters of “terrorist organizations” or as having engaged in “terrorist activity” have not been rectified by the legislation, the expanded use of waivers – if properly implemented – should help address the protection needs of many refugees. Human Rights First has prepared an advisory on the new legislation for practitioners with cases affected by the “terrorism” bars. To read the advisory, click here. To read the appropriations bill provision, click here. Prolonged Detention On January 7, 2008 the ACLU of Southern California, the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project and the Stanford Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic presented arguments in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on two cases involving the prolonged indefinite detention of immigrants – including asylum seekers. The organizations filed lawsuits with the Federal Circuit Court in November 2006 after four immigrant men had been detained indefinitely without a bond hearing to determine their eligibility for parole while awaiting the resolution of their immigration proceedings. For more information, click here. Developments on Iraqi Refugee Resettlement: Priority Resettlement for Family Members In December 2007, the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration issued information confirming that Iraqi beneficiaries of approved family-based immigrant visa petitions (known as I-130 petitions) had been designated for direct access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). The new P-2 priority category will allow these Iraqi beneficiaries to apply directly for US resettlement, rather than requiring the extra step of a referral from UNHCR. For more information click here. Resettlement Interviews Resume in Syria After several months of suspended interviews last year, DHS refugee officers have been extended visas to allow them to conduct refugee resettlement interviews in Syria again. The announcement of the visas followed a trip to Damascus by senior U.S. Coordinator for Iraqi Refugees James Foley in October. DHS officers began conducting some interviews in late 2007 in Damascus, and were expected to resume interviews again in mid to late January.