Asylum News–Winter 2009/2010

ICE implements new guidance on parole from detention for asylum seekers

On January 4, 2010, a new policy by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) guiding the parole and release decisions for asylum seekers who pass credible fear went into effect. Under U.S. immigration law, arriving asylum seekers are initially subject to mandatory detention. The new parole guidance issued by ICE requires that arriving asylum seekers who pass through the “credible fear” screening process be assessed for release from detention by ICE, and allows for the release of those who can establish their identity and do not present a flight risk or danger to the community.

Read more about Human Rights First’s recommendations on the detention of asylum seekers and more about ICE’s new parole policy.

DHS extends TPS to Haitian nationals in the United States

Three days following the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, announced that the United States will extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months to Haitian nationals, thus allowing Haitians already living in the United States to apply for permission to remain here for a limited time and work legally. As noted in the DHS announcement, TPS will only be available to Haitian nationals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010 – and is not available to any Haitian nationals who arrive in the United States after that date.

Read the Human Rights First statement.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service developed an online training titled: “Applying for Temporary Protected Status for Haitians in the U.S.” You can download notes and a recording of the 1.5 hour training (or listen without downloading) here.

For more information on how to apply for TPS, see USCIS’ website.

Hearing on U.S. compliance with international human rights treaties

On December 16, 2009, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law held the first ever hearing focused on how the U.S. is living up to its obligations under international human rights treaties. Human Rights First President and CEO, Elisa Massimino, testified before the Subcommittee, calling for implementation of human rights treaties across the U.S. government, noting that the United States must meet its own treaty obligations as it seeks to strengthen efforts to advance human rights abroad. Ms. Massimino noted that the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of the United States, conducted this year, provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the commitment of the United States to uphold its international treaty obligations and to advance a better understanding of those obligations by domestic government agencies and the broader public.

Testimony of Human Rights First President and CEO, Elisa Massimino, and the appendix on U.S. asylum policies.

Read more about the hearing.

Read more about the Universal Periodic Review.

Rodi Alvarado finally granted asylum, ending her fourteen year legal battle

On December 16, 2009 – fourteen years after fleeing her home country of Guatemala, where she suffered a decade of brutal domestic violence – Rodi Alvarado’s legal battle finally concluded when an immigration judge granted her asylum. Human Rights First is relieved that Ms. Alvarado’s legal struggle has been resolved but continues to urge U.S. policymakers to promulgate regulations clarifying aspects of the “social group” basis for asylum so that other women who have suffered brutal persecution are not denied refugee protection in the United States – or forced to wait for years to have their cases resolved.

Read about Ms. Alvarado’s legal battle and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies’ successful advocacy on behalf of Ms. Alvarado.

Save the Date: “Renewing U.S. Commitment to Refugee Protection: The 30th Anniversary of the Refugee Act,” March 16, 2010

On March 16, 2010, Human Rights First and Georgetown University Law School will be hosting a symposium entitled, “Renewing U.S. Commitment to Refugee Protection: The 30th Anniversary of the Refugee Act,” in Washington, D.C. The 30th Anniversary of the this landmark piece of legislation offers an occasion to highlight the United States’ achievements under the Refugee Act and honor the contributions refugees and their children have made to the diverse fabric of American society. Likewise, it is an opportunity to discuss the current challenges in the U.S. refugee resettlement and asylum systems and the ways in which policymakers can work together to overcome them. The forum will bring together members of Congress and their staff, UNHCR, officials within current and past administrations, faith leaders, members of the NGO community, leading academics in the field of refugee and asylum policy, pro bono attorneys, and refugees who have restarted their lives in the United States.

Read more symposium information and register.

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Published on July 2, 2010


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