Asylum News 72
DHS Announces a New Policy for Applying Exemptions for Cases Involving Material Support Provided Under Duress On December 22, 2008 USCIS announced that it will be implementing exemptions for material support provided under duress to all Tier I/II, designated, terrorist organizations in accordance with the same adjudication process currently being applied to Tier III, non-designated, organizations. This process allows for a case-by-case assessment in consideration of the “totality of the circumstances” of whether the support was provided under duress, regardless of the status of the organization to which the individual was forced to provide support. Click here to view the notice in the Federal Register dated May 8, 2007 outlining the analysis that USCIS follows in assessing whether support was provided under “duress.” Human Rights First Released a Comprehensive Blueprint Entitled, “How to Confront the Iraqi Refugee Crisis” On December 22, 2008 Human Rights First released a blueprint calling on President-elect Obama to fulfill his campaign’s commitment to confront the Iraqi refugee crisis by strengthening oversight and effectiveness of refugee assistance, ensuring that the Iraqi government refrains from pressuring refugees to return home before they can do so in safety, and placing a coordinator for Iraqi refuges in the White House which puts forward a strategy for the incoming Obama administration to address the Iraqi refugee crisis as part of its pledge to withdraw from Iraq. Click here to read the full blueprint. Congress Passes Legislation That Eliminates the One Year filing Deadline for Unaccompanied Minors and Provides the USCIS Asylum Office With Initial Jurisdiction Over Their Asylum Applications On December 12, 2008 Congress presented to President Bush for signature the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, HR 7311, (TVPRA 2008). While primarily aimed at preventing human trafficking and protecting its victims, the TVPRA 2008 contains a couple of key provisions related to unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the United States. These provisions i) eliminate the one year filing deadline for unaccompanied minors by amending INA §208(a)(2) to exclude minors and ii) transfer initial jurisdiction over any asylum application filed by an unaccompanied minor from the Immigration Courts to the USCIS Asylum Office for a non-adversarial adjudication. Click here to see the text of the bill. USCIS Announces an Interim Final Rule to Allow “T” and “U” Nonimmigrants to Adjust Their Status and Become Lawful Permanent Residents On December 8, 2008 USCIS announced an interim final rule that will allow “T” and “U” nonimmigrants to adjust their status and become lawful permanent residents. “T” visas are granted to victims of a severe form of trafficking while “U” visas are granted to victims of certain serious crimes. Both visas generally require cooperation with law enforcement for eligibility, with certain exceptions. The interim rule announced by USCIS allows for “T” and “U” nonimmigrants to adjust their status after three years of physical presence in the U.S. Click here to see the Federal Register announcement for more information about eligibility requirements to adjust status for “T” or “U” nonimmigrants and how to submit comments.