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Refugees and Asylees

Latest Statistics from US Department of Homeland Security

 

A refugee is a person outside his or her country of nationality who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. An asylee is a person who meets the definition of refugee and is already present in the United States or is seeking admission at a port of entry. Refugees are required to apply for Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card”) status one year after being admitted, and asylees may apply for green card status one year after their grant of asylum.

The Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) Annual Flow Reports on refugees and asylees contain information obtained from the Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (WRAPS) of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of the U.S. Department of State on the numbers and demographic profiles of persons admitted to the United States as refugees, and those applying for and granted asylum status during a given fiscal year. Below are the annual flow reports on Refugees & Asylees.

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NOTICIAS

USCIS Amplía las Guías Relacionadas con el Requisito de Buen Carácter Moral para la Naturalización

 Fecha de Publicación: 13 de diciembre de 2019

WASHINGTON—Hoy, el Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de Estados Unidos (USCIS, por sus siglas en inglés) amplió su guía de políticas (PDF, 290 KB) con respecto a los actos ilegales que podrían impedir que un solicitante cumpla con el requisito de buen carácter moral para la naturalización. Cometer un acto ilegal, así como ser condenado o encarcelado por un acto ilegal durante el período reglamentario para la naturalización, podría hacer que un solicitante resulte inelegible para la naturalización si se determina que dicho acto afecta adversamente el carácter moral.

Anteriormente, el Manual de Políticas de USCIS no incluía información extensa acerca de los actos ilegales. Esta actualización al Manual de Políticas proporciona ejemplos sobre actos ilegales e instrucciones adicionales para asegurar que los adjudicadores de USCIS hagan determinaciones uniformes y justas, e identifica más claramente actos ilegales basados en precedentes judiciales, que pueden afectar el buen carácter moral. Esta actualización no cambia el impacto que tiene un acto ilegal en el análisis que hace USCIS de si un solicitante puede demostrar buen carácter moral. Los adjudicadores de campo reciben una amplia capacitación para aplicar la ley sobre buen carácter moral y la reglamentación sobre actos ilegales. Ellos están conscientes de cuáles actos pueden impedir que un solicitante obtenga la naturalización y no están limitados a los ejemplos listados en el Manual de Políticas.

El 10 de diciembre, USCIS emitió guías de políticas separadas en el Manual de Políticas de USCIS acerca de cómo dos o más condenas por conducir bajo la influencia del alcohol o drogas o cambios posteriores a las sentencias criminales pueden afectar las determinaciones de buen carácter moral.

“En la Ley de Inmigración y Nacionalidad, el Congreso determinó que el buen carácter moral es un requisito para la naturalización”, dijo Mark Koumans, director interino de USCIS. “USCIS está comprometido con administrar fielmente el sistema de inmigración legal de nuestra nación, y esta actualización ayuda a asegurar que los adjudicadores de nuestra agencia tomen decisiones uniformes y justas respecto a la consideración de los actos ilegales en el buen carácter moral al momento de determinar la elegibilidad a la ciudadanía estadounidense”.

Bajo la Ley de Inmigración y Nacionalidad (INA), un solicitante de naturalización debe demostrar buen carácter moral. Aunque la INA no define directamente qué es buen carácter moral, sí describe ciertos actos que impiden demostrar el buen carácter moral de un solicitante. Algunos ejemplos de actos ilegales reconocidos por la jurisprudencia que impiden demostrar buen carácter moral incluyen, pero no se limitan a:

  • huir bajo fianza;
  • fraude bancario;
  • conspiración para distribuir sustancias controladas;
  • no presentar o pagar impuestos;
  • reclamar fraudulentamente la ciudadanía estadounidense;
  • falsificación de registros;
  • hacer declaraciones fraudulentas; poner en circulación documentos falsos
  • fraude de seguros;
  • obstrucción de la justicia;
  • abuso sexual;
  • fraude al Seguro Social;
  • acoso ilegal;
  • inscribirse ilegalmente para votar;
  • votar fraudulentamente; e
  • infringir un embargo impuesto por los Estados Unidos.

En general, los solicitantes deben demostrar que han sido y siguen siendo personas de buen carácter moral durante el periodo reglamentario previo a solicitar la naturalización y hasta que toman el Juramento de Lealtad. Por lo general, el periodo reglamentario es cinco años para los residentes permanentes de Estados Unidos, tres años para los solicitantes que son cónyuge de ciudadano estadounidense, y un año para algunas personas que solicitan basándose en servicio militar estadounidense cualificado.

Los oficiales de USCIS deben hacer aún un análisis caso por caso para determinar si un acto es ilegal y afecta adversamente el buen carácter moral del solicitante. También, deben determinar si existen circunstancias atenuantes. Una circunstancia atenuante debe estar conectada al acto ilegal y debe preceder o ser contemporánea con la comisión del acto ilegal. Actualizaremos el adiestramiento que reciben los adjudicadores para reflejar esta guía ampliada.

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Fact Sheet: Immigrants in Florida

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Victorias Judiciales en Casos de Carga Pública

Fecha de Publicación: 10 de diciembre de 2019

 

WASHINGTON — El Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de Estados Unidos obtuvo victorias judiciales en fallos judiciales emitidos la semana pasada por el Noveno Circuito, y el lunes por el Cuarto Circuito para suspender los mandatos judiciales preliminares y respetar la autoridad legal conferida a la Administración por el Congreso de Estados Unidos, que requiere que los extranjeros que buscan entrar y permanecer en Estados Unidos sean autosuficientes.

" Las recientes decisiones judiciales motivan a USCIS, ya que son signos positivos de que la implementación de la regla de inadmisibilidad basada en carga pública es posible", dijo la subdirectora en funciones de USCIS, Kathy Nuebel Kovarik. "Esta regla hace cumplir una ley de inmigración que está en vigor desde hace mucho tiempo, que ha estado vigente desde el siglo XIX y que el Congreso no ha cambiado en décadas".

El 5 de diciembre, el Tribunal de Apelaciones de Estados Unidos para el Noveno Circuito emitió un fallo a favor de la moción de DHS para suspender los mandatos preliminares otorgados por los Tribunales de Distrito de Estados Unidos para el Distrito Norte de California y el Distrito Este de Washington. El 9 de diciembre, el Tribunal de Apelaciones de Estados Unidos para el Cuarto Circuito emitió un fallo a favor de la moción de DHS para suspender el mandato judicial preliminar otorgado por el Tribunal de Distrito de Estados Unidos para el Distrito de Maryland.

DHS sigue sujeto a una orden judicial vigente en todo el país en un caso pendiente ante el Tribunal de Distrito de Estados Unidos para el Distrito Sur de Nueva York y una orden judicial limitada al estado de Illinois pendiente ante el Tribunal de Distrito de Estados Unidos para el Distrito Norte de Illinois. Los litigios relacionados continúan ante los Tribunales de Apelaciones de Estados Unidos para el Segundo y Séptimo Circuito.

La regla final, emitida en agosto, dicta cómo DHS determinará si un extranjero es inadmisible en Estados Unidos en función de su probabilidad de convertirse en una carga pública en cualquier momento en el futuro, según lo establecido en la Ley de Inmigración y Nacionalidad.

Para obtener más información sobre USCIS y sus programas, visite uscis.gov/es o síganos en Twitter (@uscis_es)Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis.es), and LinkedIn (/uscis).


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USCIS Evitará que los Solicitantes de Asilo Frívolos

o Fraudulentos Obtengan Autorizaciones de Empleo

 Fecha de Publicación: 13 de noviembre de 2019

WASHINGTON—El Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración anunció hoy una regla propuesta para evitar que los extranjeros entren ilegalmente a Estados Unidos y para prevenir que presenten solicitudes de asilo que sean frívolas, fraudulentas o no meritorias con el propósito de obtener autorización de empleo.

La regla propuesta permitirá que USCIS extienda mejor las protecciones a aquellos que presentan solicitudes de asilo legítimas. USCIS también busca prevenir que algunos criminales extranjeros obtengan autorizaciones de empleo antes de que se adjudiquen los méritos de sus solicitudes de asilo.

La regla propuesta surge del Memorándum Presidencial sobre Medidas Adicionales para Mejorar la Seguridad en la Frontera y Recobrar la Integridad en Nuestro Sistema de Inmigración del 29 de abril de 2019, que enfatiza que es la política de Estados Unidos gestionar programas de inmigración humanitaria de manera segura y ordenada, y denegar prontamente los beneficios a quienes no cualifican. Nada en esta regla cambia los requisitos de elegibilidad para asilo. En cambio, esta regla fortalece los estándares que permiten que un extranjero trabaje a base de su solicitud de asilo pendiente.

“Nuestro sistema de inmigración está en crisis. Los extranjeros ilegales manipulan nuestro sistema de asilo para una oportunidad económica, lo que debilita la integridad de nuestro sistema de inmigración y demora la ayuda para los solicitantes legítimos de asilo que tienen necesidad de obtener protección humanitaria”, dijo el director interino de USCIS, Ken Cuccinelli. “USCIS debe tomar medidas para abordar los factores de atracción que alientan a los extranjeros a ingresar ilegalmente a Estados Unidos y abusar de nuestra infraestructura de asilo. Estas reformas propuestas están diseñadas para recobrar la integridad del sistema de asilo y disminuir los incentivos de presentar una solicitud de asilo con el propósito principal de obtener una autorización de empleo”.

Según ordena el memorándum presidencial, USCIS propone:

  • Prevenir que los extranjeros que entraron a Estados Unidos ilegalmente obtengan una autorización de empleo basada en una solicitud de asilo que está pendiente, con limitadas excepciones; y
  • Cancelar automáticamente las autorizaciones de empleo cuando la denegación de asilo de un solicitante sea final administrativamente.

Además, USCIS propone:

  • Clarificar que si el solicitante de asilo no se presenta a una cita requerida, esto puede dar lugar a la desestimación de su solicitud de asilo y/o denegación de su solicitud de autorización de empleo;
  • Evitar que los extranjeros que no presenten su solicitud de asilo dentro de un año de su última entrada, según lo requiere la ley, obtengan una autorización de empleo; y
  • Hacer inelegible para obtener autorización de empleo a todo extranjero que haya sido convicto en Estados Unidos de cualquier delito federal o estatal, o convicto de ciertos delitos a la seguridad pública que involucren abuso de menores, violencia doméstica, o conducir bajo la influencia de drogas o alcohol.

Las detenciones no resueltas o cargos pendientes podrían resultar en la denegación de la solicitud de autorización de empleo como una cuestión de discreción.

Asylum in the United States

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Asylum

Each year, thousands of noncitizens arriving at our border or already in the United States apply for asylum, or protection from persecution. Asylum seekers must navigate a difficult and complex process that can involve multiple government agencies. Those granted asylum have the opportunity to apply to live in the United States permanently, receive certain benefits, and be reunited with their family members. This fact sheet provides an overview of the asylum system in the United States, including how asylum is defined, eligibility requirements, and the application process.


What Is Asylum?

Asylum is a protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or at the border who meet the international law definition of a “refugee.” The United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol define a refugee as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country, and cannot obtain protection in that country, due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future “on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Congress incorporated this definition into U.S. immigration law in the Refugee Act of 1980.

As a signatory to the 1967 Protocol, and through U.S. immigration law, the United States has legal obligations to provide protection to those who qualify as refugees. The Refugee Act established two paths to obtain refugee status—either from abroad as a resettled refugee or in the United States as an asylum seeker.


What Are the Benefits of Asylum?

An asylee—or a person granted asylum—is protected from being returned to his or her home country, is authorized to work in the United States, may apply for a Social Security card, may request permission to travel overseas, and can petition to bring family members to the United States. Asylees may also be eligible certain benefits, such as Medicaid or Refugee Medical Assistance.

After one year, an asylee may apply for lawful permanent resident status (i.e., a green card). Once the individual becomes a permanent resident, he or she must wait four years to apply for citizenship. 


What Is the Asylum Application Process?

There are two primary ways in which a person may apply for asylum in the United States: the affirmative process and the defensive process. Asylum seekers who arrive at a U.S. port of entry or enter the United States without inspection generally must apply through the defensive asylum process. Both processes require the asylum seeker to be physically present in the United States.

  • Affirmative Asylum: A person who is not in removal proceedings may affirmatively apply for asylum through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). If the USCIS asylum officer does not grant the asylum application and the applicant does not have a lawful immigration status, he or she is referred to the immigration court for removal proceedings, where he or she may renew the request for asylum through the defensive process and appear before an immigration judge.
  • Defensive Asylum: A person who is in removal proceedings may apply for asylum defensively by filing the application with an immigration judge at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in the Department of Justice. In other words, asylum is applied for “as a defense against removal from the U.S.” Unlike the criminal court system, EOIR does not provide appointed counsel for individuals in immigration court, even if they are unable to retain an attorney on their own.

With or without counsel, an asylum seeker has the burden of proving that he or she meets the definition of a refugee. Asylum seekers often provide substantial evidence throughout the affirmative and defensive processes demonstrating either past persecution or that they have a “well-founded fear” of future persecution in their home country. However, the individual’s own testimony is usually critical to his or her asylum determination.

Certain factors bar individuals from asylum.  With limited exceptions, individuals who fail to apply for asylum within one year of entering the United States will be barred from receiving asylum. Similarly, applicants who are found to pose a danger to the United States are barred from asylum.


Is There a Deadline for Asylum Applications?

An individual generally must apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States. Whether DHS is obligated to notify asylum seekers of this deadline is the subject of pending litigation. A class-action lawsuit has challenged the government's failure to provide asylum seekers adequate notice of the one-year deadline and a uniform procedure for filing timely applications.

Asylum seekers in the affirmative and defensive processes face many obstacles to meeting the one-year deadline. Some individuals face traumatic repercussions from their time in detention or journeying to the United States and may never know that a deadline exists. Even those who are aware of the deadline encounter systemic barriers, such as lengthy backlogs, that can make it impossible to file their application in a timely manner. In many cases, missing the one-year deadline is the sole reason the government denies an asylum application.


What Happens to Asylum Seekers Arriving at a U.S. Border?

Noncitizens who are encountered by, or present themselves to, a U.S. official at a port of entry or near the border are subject to expedited removal, an accelerated process which authorizes DHS to perform rapid deportations of certain individuals.

To ensure that the United States does not violate international and domestic laws by returning individuals to countries where their life or liberty may be at risk, the credible fear and reasonable fear screening processes are available to asylum seekers in expedited removal processes.

Credible Fear

Individuals who are placed in expedited removal proceedings and who tell a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official that they fear persecution, torture, or returning to their country or that they wish to apply for asylum should be referred for a credible fear screening interview conducted by an asylum officer.

If the asylum officer determines that the asylum seeker has a credible fear of persecution or torture, it means that the person has proven that he or she has a “significant possibility” of establishing eligibility for asylum or other protection under the Convention Against Torture. The individual will then be referred to immigration court to proceed with the defensive asylum application process.

If the asylum officer determines the person does not have a credible fear, the individual is ordered removed. Before deportation, the individual may appeal the negative credible fear decision by pursuing a truncated review process before an immigration judge. If the immigration judge overturns a negative credible fear finding, the individual is placed in further removal proceedings through which the individual can seek protection from removal. If the immigration judge upholds the negative finding by the asylum officer, the individual will be removed from the United States.

  • In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, USCIS found 60,566 individuals to have credible fear. These individuals, many of whom were detained during this screening process, will be afforded an opportunity to apply for asylum defensively and establish that they meet the refugee definition.
  • The number of credible fear cases has skyrocketed since the procedure was implemented—in FY 2009, USCIS completed 5,523 cases. Case completions reached an all-time high in FY 2016 at 92,071 and decreased to 79,977 in FY 2017.

Reasonable Fear

Individuals who re-enter the United States unlawfully after a prior deportation order and noncitizens convicted of certain crimes are subject to a different expedited removal process called reinstatement of removal.  To protect asylum seekers from summary removal before their asylum claim is heard, those in reinstatement of removal proceedings who express a fear of returning to their country are afforded a “reasonable fear” interview with an asylum officer.

To demonstrate a reasonable fear, the individual must show that there is a “reasonable possibility” that he or she will be tortured in the country of removal or persecuted on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. While both credible and reasonable fear determinations evaluate the likelihood of an individual’s persecution or torture if deported, the reasonable fear standard is higher.

If the asylum officer finds that the person has a reasonable fear of persecution or torture, he or she will be referred to immigration court. The person has the opportunity to prove to an immigration judge that he or she is eligible for "withholding of removal" or "deferral of removal"—protection from future persecution or torture. While withholding of removal is similar to asylum, some of the requirements are more difficult to meet and the relief it provides is narrower. Significantly, and unlike asylum, it does not provide a pathway to lawful permanent residence.

If the asylum officer determines the person does not have a reasonable fear of future persecution or torture, the individual may appeal the negative decision to an immigration judge. If the judge upholds the asylum officer’s negative determination, the individual is turned over to immigration enforcement officers for removal. However, if the immigration judge overturns the asylum officer's negative finding, the individual is placed in removal proceedings through which the individual can pursue protection from removal.


How Long Does the Asylum Process Take?

Overall, the asylum process can take years to conclude. In some cases, a person may file his or her application and receive a hearing or interview date years in the future.

  • As of March 2018, there were more than 318,000 affirmative asylum applications pending with USCIS. The government does not estimate the time it will take to schedule an initial interview for these asylum applicants, though historically the delay could reach four years for such asylum seekers.
  • The backlog in U.S. immigration courts reached an all-time high in March 2018 with more than 690,000 open deportation cases. On average, these cases had been pending for 718 days and remained unresolved.
  • Individuals with an immigration court case who were ultimately granted relief—such as asylum—by March 2018 waited more than 1,000 days on average for that outcome. New Jersey and California had the longest wait times, averaging 1,300 days until relief was granted in the immigration case.

Asylum seekers, and any family members waiting to join them, are left in limbo while their case is pending. The backlogs and delays can cause prolonged separation of refugee families, leave family members abroad in dangerous situations, and make it more difficult to retain pro bono counsel for the duration of the asylum seeker’s case.

Although asylum seekers may apply for work authorization after their case has been pending for 150 days, the uncertainty of their future impedes employment, education, and trauma recovery opportunities.


What Happens to Asylum Seekers While Their Application Is Processed?

Asylum seekers include some of the most vulnerable members of society—children, single mothers, victims of domestic violence or torture, and other individuals who have suffered persecution and trauma. Some of these individuals may live in the United States while their application is processed, yet the government has detained others—including children and families—for some or all of this time.

While U.S. law provides arriving asylum seekers the right to be in the United States while their claim for protection is pending, the government has argued that it has the right to detain such individuals. Some courts have rejected this interpretation and held that asylum seekers meeting certain criteria have a right to a hearing over their detention if they have been held for at least six months. Several lawsuits have challenged the practice of detaining asylum applicants, including class-action suits that document the prolonged detention—sometimes lasting years—of individuals with credible fear awaiting adjudication of their claim for asylum.

Detention exacerbates the challenges asylum seekers already face and can negatively impact a person’s asylum application. Children and families who are detained suffer mental and physical health problems, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and frequent infections. Studies have found that detained individuals in removal proceedings are nearly five times less likely to secure legal counsel than those not in detention. This disparity can significantly affect an individual's case, as those with representation are more likely to apply for protection in the first place and successfully obtain the relief sought.


How Many People Are Granted Asylum?

In FY 2016, the most recent year with available data, 20,455 individuals were granted asylum: 11,729 affirmatively and 8,726 defensively (Figure 1). Total annual asylum grants averaged 23,669 between FY 2007 and FY 2016.

 

The countries of nationality for individuals granted asylum have largely remained the same in this 10-year period (FY 2007-2016), with nationals of China and Egypt making up significant shares of asylees. Other individuals granted asylum in that time period included nationals of Guatemala, Haiti, Venezuela, Iraq, Ethiopia, Iran, Colombia, and Russia.

In FY 2016, Chinese and Salvadoran nationals represented the greatest shares of asylees (accounting for 21.9 and 10.5 percent, respectively, of all individuals granted asylum in FY 2016). Nationals of China, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras combined accounted for half (49.4 percent) of the 20,455 individuals granted asylum—either affirmatively or defensively—in FY 2016. A total of 98 nationalities were represented among all individuals granted asylum in FY 2016.

Source: American Immigration Council analysis of government data. Office of Immigration Statistics, Tables 17 and 19 in 2016 Yearbook of Immigration Statistic (Washington, DC: U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., 2018), https://www.dhs.gov/immigration-statistics/yearbook/2016.

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