Thursday, March 27, 2008

U.S. to Re-Evaluate "Terrorist" Preclusion to Refugees and Asylees

The Washington Post reports that the U.S. immigration service has said that it will temporarily stop denying green cards to refugees and other legal immigrants tied to groups that sought to topple foreign dictatorships. The decision mayy affect thousands of pending applications for permanent U.S. residence. The cases of hundreds of others who have been denied green cards since December will also be reexamined, said Jonathan "Jock" Scharfen, deputy director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. All the applicants are living in this country under refugee or political asylum provisions of the immigration laws. Most of the applications involve people linked to groups that U.S. immigration and counterterrorism laws have defined as "undesignated terrorist organizations" because they took armed action against a foreign government. The groups include U.S. allies that fought against former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the Taliban government in Afghanistan, as well as Burma's military junta and Sudan's Islamic leaders. According to the Post, Scharfen said that USCIS recognized the illogic of admitting immigrants under one provision of the law and then labeling them terrorists for green card purposes, calling it a "very good question." At the same time, he said, the restrictions are "written so that the definition of a terrorist organization and activity is very, very broad." Even groups that have been "closely associated with the United States," such as Montagnard tribesmen who fought with U.S. forces in Vietnam, "fall under the definitions."

Click here and here for the official word from USCIS on this issue.


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