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Asylum Law Updates

Expedited Removal: Individuals seeking to apply for asylum upon arriving at a U.S. airport or other port of entry are subject to a recently-created expedited removal system. If an asylum seeker arrives with false or no documents, he must establish a fear of persecution in an on-the-spot interview before an immigration officer, or face immediate deportation. Of the persons identified for expedited removal, only about 1% get beyond the on-the-spot interview and see an asylum officer. Of those, about 88% convince asylum officers that they have a credible fear of persecution and are given the chance to make their case to an Immigration Judge. An immigration judge may review a negative decision within seven days. This expedited removal system is responsible for the removal of approximately one half of all persons removed from the U.S.

Automatic Detention: This new policy was introduced by a new Department of Homeland Security in March 2003. Asylum seekers fleeing from the following countries may be subject to detention at the US border and may not be eligible for parole: Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Morocco, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Djibouti, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Syria, Tunisia, Thailand, Yemen as well as Gaza and the West Bank. Only asylees arriving at the border will be detained; affirmative applicants will likely not be detained.

How many refugees does the U.S. accept?

The United States accepts a limited number of refugees each year. This number is determined by the President in consultation with Congress. In fiscal year 2002, for example, 70,000 refugees were permitted to come to the U.S. The total number of refugees admitted is divided among different regions of the world. In fiscal year 2002, the regions and the numbers, of admissions are:

  • Africa - 22,000
  • Eastern Europe - 9,000
  • Former Soviet Union - 17,000
  • East Asia - 4,000
  • Near East/South Asia - 15,000
  • Latin America and the Caribbean - 3,000

There are no limits on the number of asylees for people applying within the U.S.