Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Refugee’

27th February 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security may soon be utilizing a portable DNA screener which can establish kinship via DNA comparison in a relatively quick span of time. To quote directly from the website Nextgov.com (a site dedicated to providing information about the confluence of technology and government):

[P]lans to begin testing a DNA analyzer that’s small enough to be easily portable and fast enough to return results in less than an hour.

The analyzer, about the size of a laser printer, initially will be used to determine kinship among refugees and asylum seekers. It also could help establish whether foreigners giving children up for adoption are their parents or other relatives, and help combat child smuggling and human trafficking, said Christopher Miles, biometrics program manager in the DHS Office of Science and Technology.

The administration of this web log highly recommends that readers click on the links above to read this interesting article in its entirety.

This technology could have some remarkably positive implications. For example, as noted above, the ability to quickly determine a genetic link between two individuals could expedite the processing of requests for American immigration benefits such as asylum or conferral of refugee status. Moreover, such technology could be tremendously useful in adjudications pertaining to issuance of a Certificate of Citizenship or Consular Report of Birth Abroad. Also, technology such as this could truly be useful in combating problems such as human trafficking (hopefully with particular emphasis upon trafficking in children). This being said, There are some eerily Orwellian aspects to technology such as this. To continue quoting from the above cited article on Nextgov.com:

Eventually, the analyzer also could be used to positively identify criminals, illegal immigrants, missing persons and mass casualty victims, he said.

The implications for so-called “criminals,” (a term often applied loosely by law enforcement personnel) could be serious. Usage of technology such as that noted above, when utilized against American Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents in matters which could have an impact upon individual civil liberties, needs to comport with the protections guaranteed to individuals under the United States Constitution and enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

Some may ponder: “Why does this blogger take issue with technology such as that noted above when utilized against US Citizens, while being less concerned for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers?” The short answer: prospective immigrants outside of the United States have virtually no “rights”. Those seeking immigration benefits are seeking just that: BENEFITS. While American Citizens and those already admitted to the United States in Lawful Permanent Resident status (or another lawful visa status) are guaranteed certain protections from governmental intrusion.

Widespread usage of this technology has yet to be implemented, but one thing is clear: technology is revolutionizing all aspects of the US Immigration process.

For related information please see: DHS Iris Scanners.

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20th March 2010

Recently, this author came across an announcement that a new refugee bill was introduced in the United States Senate. Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democratic Senator from the State of Vermont, introduced the “The Refugee Protection Act of 2010.” The provisions of the Act would supplement the Refugee Act of 1980.

In another recent announcement the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) discussed the ways that the proposed bill will improve conditions for American refugees. The following list of improvements was quoted directly from the AILA website:

“Increased Protections for Asylum Seekers:

  • Eliminate the requirement that asylum applicants file their claim within one year of arrival.
  • Protect particularly vulnerable asylum seekers by ensuring they can pursue a claim even where their persecution was not socially visible.
  • Ensure fair process by requiring an immigration judge to give notice and an opportunity to respond when the judge requires corroborating evidence of the asylum claim.
  • Give an applicant the opportunity to explain and clarify inconsistencies in a claim.
  • Enable minors who seek asylum to have an initial interview with an asylum officer in a non-adversarial setting.
  • Allow the Attorney General to appoint counsel where fair resolution or effective adjudication of the proceedings would be served by appointment of counsel.

Reforms to the Expedited Removal Process:

  • Require the referral of asylum seekers to an asylum officer for a credible fear interview, and, if credible fear is found, for an asylum interview.
  • Authorize the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom to conduct a new study on the effects of expedited removal authority on asylum seekers.

Parole of Asylum Seekers:

  • Codify the current DHS policy that asylum seekers be considered for release (“parole”) and requires DHS to issue regulations establishing criteria for parole.
  • Establish a nationwide, secure “alternatives to detention” program.
  • Require changes in the immigration detention system to ensure asylum seekers and others have access to counsel, medical care, religious practice, and visits from family.

Terrorism Bar to Admissibility:

  • Modify definitions in the statute to ensure that innocent asylum seekers and refugees are not unfairly denied protection as a result of the material support and terrorism bars in the law, while ensuring that those with legitimate ties to terrorist activity will continue to be denied entry to the United States.

Protection for Refugees and Asylees:

  • Eliminate the one-year waiting period for refugees and asylees to apply for a green card.
  • Allow certain children and family members of refugees to be considered as derivative applicants for refugee status. All such applicants must pass standard security checks.
  • Authorize the Secretary of State to designate certain groups as eligible for expedited adjudication as refugees.
  • Prevent newly resettled refugees from slipping into poverty by adjusting the per capita refugee resettlement grant level annually for inflation and the cost of living.”

How this bill fares in the Senate remains to be seen, but one can hope that some new measure of protection will be accorded to foreign refugees seeking asylum in the United States of America, particularly in the context of expedited removal as this can cause a great deal of suffering for many of those trying to get into the United States in order to flee persecution.

United States Immigration for Refugees is a major concern in Southeastern Asia as there are many displaced ethnic and religious groups throughout the region. In most cases, refugees come from countries such as Burma or Laos, as Thailand sees few refugees departing for America. For further information regarding American visas from Southeast Asia and Thailand specifically please see: US Visa Thailand.

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22nd September 2009

The plight of many Burmese (Myanmar Nationals) living in Thailand is a sad one as many are not in any type of legal status or are simply refugees who cannot return to their home country. In a recent article, their situation was brought into sharp focus by the Thai media…and it was all due to a paper airplane. To quote the Canadian Press:

“A boy with no official nationality who lives in Thailand captured third place in a Japanese paper airplane contest Sunday after his tearful pleas to be allowed to attend prompted authorities to grant him a rare temporary passport for the event.”

It is truly inspirational when Thai people become upset due to a social injustice, because things tend to get done. Temporary passports have never been easily obtainable for people of any nationality living in Thailand, but in the case of those originally from Myanmar a request for an official travel document from the Thai government is often dismissed out of hand. The above article went further in discussing this particular situation:

“Mong’s ethnic Shan parents have only temporary permission to live and work in Thailand, so although he was born in the country he has only temporary resident status. Under normal circumstances, if he left and tried to return, his status would be revoked and he would be barred re-entry to the country where he was born.When his initial application for temporary exit papers was denied, the story dominated the front pages of Thai newspapers, and a national lawyers’ council petitioned the court on his behalf.”

Kudos to the Thai National Lawyers Council for taking up the cause of this young man. Asylees and refugees tend to have the most trouble obtaining legal documentation, particularly for travel. This article highlighted this fact and hopefully the plight of the Burmese in Thailand will be in the future thoughts of those in government positions.

It is interesting to note that this child’s family had not obtained Thai Permanent Residence. If that had been the case they may have been eligible for a Reentry Permit. Many Burmese from the Shan States of Myanmar live and work in Thailand illegally. There are certain parallels between these migrant workers and the undocumented Mexicans who enter the United States in order to work and live. Many of these people come from difficult environments in their home countries and they seek economic opportunities in Thailand or America. Although it is certainly a legal necessity to obtain proper documentation, the fact is that many people in dire circumstances do not have the time or the resources to go through the proper channels. A little bit of “give” on the part of the government can be beneficial in extenuating circumstances.

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20th May 2009

I was reading a piece written by the American Immigration Lawyers Association that could be useful for refugees in Thailand. With the political situation in Burma remaining abysmal, refugee issues will probably continue to be a problem in Thailand. The following is an original writing based upon information included in a piece written by AILA:

Recognition of Unregistered Customary Marriages in Refugee Camps

How do the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service Centers view marriages conducted in refugee camps that are not duly registered at a government office or  properly formalized under the laws of the country in which the marriage takes place? For instance, if a customary wedding ceremony occurs in a Burmese refugee camp in the Kingdom of Thailand and the wedding ceremony is properly conducted by the authorities in charge of the refugee camp, but the marriage is not registered, recorded, or recognized by the Thai government officers at the local Amphur, or District, Office which is generally a requirement of legal marriages occurring within the jursdiction of the Kingdom of Thailand, then that marriage will not be considered legal under Thai law. Will the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service recognize the marriage as valid for reasons pertaining to the I-730 refugee/asylum petition? If USCIS will recognize this type of marriage for immigration puposes, then is there any special kinds of evidence that must be submitted to prove up the bona fide nature of the marriage?

USCIS may consider marriages in circumstances described above as valid for immigration purposes, but there are some caveats. In the past, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service has made the decision that the lack of legal perfection or registration of a marriage might not cause the marriage to become invalid for the purpose of immigration if the reason for the failure to register or perfect stems from the applicants flight from persecution.

If those seeking asylum as refugees in the United States were precluded from executing a valid marital perfection or registration of their religious, tribal, or customary wedding ceremony with the government at the time of the marriage and this preclusion was based upon a situation outside of their control; should this situation be associated with the underlying persecution of this collection of peoplet, then the marriages might be considered valid by USCIS for purposes relating to US immigration. Situations beyond the control of a refugee couple’s control that fit this category include (but may not be limited to): the inability to utilize government institutions in a host country because of one or more policies of the refugee camp, host government regulations that are discriminatory in nature, or any preclusion of marital recognition resulting from the flight from the refugee’s home country.

Much like Fiance Visas, CR1 visas, or other family based visa petitions, it is incumbent upon the couple to prove that the marriage is bona fide. Ways of proving the bona fides of the marriage include: evidence of the couple holding themselves out as married, evidence of the couple having lived together, offspring resulting from the marriage, and execution of a marriage ceremony.

For More Please See:

K1 visa Thailand

(Please not: Nothing in this article should be used in place of legal advice from a competent licensed attorney. No attorney client privilege, either express or implied, is created by reading this post.)

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