Asylum News 71

Blueprint for Obama Administration Provides Recommendations for Repairing the U.S. Asylum System Human Rights First’s Refugee Protection Program released a comprehensive blueprint – How to Repair the U.S. Asylum System – providing a detailed strategy for the Obama administration to repair the U.S. asylum system and restore the United States to prominence as a global leader in providing refuge for victims of religious, political, ethnic and other forms of persecution. While focused on solutions, the blueprint outlines many of the most harmful flaws in the current asylum system. It describes the process by which asylum seekers may now be jailed for months upon their arrival while their applications work their way through the system. Many refugees are being denied asylum protection due to an arbitrary filing deadline, and some who fled persecution by terrorist groups are being labeled “terrorists” themselves, due to overly broad definitions of terrorism in current law. Such policies create a grave risk that the United States is returning refugees to countries where they may suffer persecution, torture, or death. Human Rights First is committed to working with the Obama administration on seeking meaningful resolutions to these flawed policies. DHS Responds to the Recommendations Made by the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom on Asylum Seekers in Expedited Removal In February 2005, the bi-partisan, congressionally mandated U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) issued its Report on Asylum Seekers in Expedited Removal after conducting an extensive study of the U.S. asylum and detention system. USCIRF’s report documented serious failings in U.S. treatment of refugees who seek asylum in the United States and recommended a series of specific policy reforms. All of the reforms recommended were within the administration’s authority to implement; none required congressional action. However, rather than take the USCIRF’s recommendations under serious advisement, almost four years after the report was issued, DHS has failed to implement almost all of the recommendations. On November 28, 2008 DHS issued a long-awaited response on its implementation of USCIRF’s recommendations. Click here to view the DHS response to the USCIRF report. U.S. Surpasses Resettlement Goal for Iraqi Refugees in FY 2008 The United States surpassed its target of resettling 12,000 Iraqi refugees in FY 2008 by welcoming almost 14,000 Iraqis to the U.S. in the past year. While this represents a step forward, the need for resettling Iraqis remains immense. The UN refugee agency projects that out of the estimated four million still displaced Iraqis, 85,000 of the most vulnerable will need resettlement in 2009. The United States has set its admissions floor for FY 2009 at only 17,000 Iraqi refugees, even though the infrastructure is now in place to process many more. The Refugee Protection Program is urging the United States to take a greater leadership role in addressing this humanitarian crisis and increase its resettlement goal upward for FY 2009. Read the Human Rights First Press Release here.

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Published on November 1, 2008

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