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Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project 15 July 2009 Slide *The Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project :Representing Iraqi Refugees
Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project 15 July 2009 Slide *Background on the Iraqi Refugee CrisisBy the numbers :Although estimates very according to the source, it Is estimated that there are over 2.5 million Iraqi refugees, with 1 million in neighboring countries outside Iraq and up to 1.5 million Internally Displaced Persons. UNHCR registration numbers: Syria, roughly 240,000; Jordan, roughly 37,000; Lebanon, roughly 10,000.According to recent studies by both UNHCR and the Brookings Institute, the vast majority of Iraqi refugees believe return will never be possible.
Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project 15 July 2009 Slide *The U.S. Response to the CrisisPHASE 1: The U.S. invades Iraq and plans for a massive refugee outflow. None comes. The infrastructure put in place to process Iraqi refugees is disamantled.
PHASE 2: After the bombing of the Samarra mosque in February of 2006 leads to a national deterioration of the security situation and the resurgence of militias, the predicted massive refugee outflow actually begins. However, UNHCR and other resettlement countries no longer have an infrastructure in place to deal with a massive refugee outflow, and they struggle to put something together quickly.Other European and allied countries step in to accept refugees for resettlement, but between 2003 and 2007, the U.S. admits only 2,372 Iraqi refugees in total.
PHASE 3: The Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act (the Kennedy Act) passes as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for F.Y. 2008. The Kennedy Act creates a special priority category for Iraqis who assisted the U.S. or U.S. organizations.It also expands the number of Special Immigrant Visas available to anyone employed by the U.S. military or a subcontractor, in any capacity, for one year or more.
Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project 15 July 2009 Slide *The Kennedy LegislationRefugee Resettlement ( 1243)Establishes Direct Access for Iraqis who worked for the U.S. government or an NGO or media organization based in the U.S.NOTE: NO TIME REQUIREMENT.
Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) ( 1244)For Iraqis who worked directly for the U.S. military or a U.S. military subcontractor for a period in excess of 12 months.NOTE: CAN BE CUMULATIVE.
Leadership and Accountability ( 1242, 1245, 1248)Requires status reports by Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and State on the crisis, as well as by the President on general ability to meet the goals of the legislation as well as ways to improve processing, such as the use of video conferencing for interviews. Establishes Senior Coordinators in Baghdad, Cairo, Amman, Damascus, and Beirut to coordinate relief and resettlement efforts.
Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project 15 July 2009 Slide *Avenues to Safety for Iraqi RefugeesAsylumFor Iraqis already within U.S. borders;Usually arrived on non-immigrant student, tourist, or work visa;No numerical limits.Refugee ResettlementFor Iraqis outside U.S. borders (formerly also outside Iraq);Must meet definition of refugee, and either (a) be referred for resettlement or (b) be eligible for direct access to U.S. resettlement;Target of 20,000 Iraqi refugees for FY 2010.Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs)For Iraqi nationals only.Can be currently located in any country. Must have worked for the U.S. military or a U.S. military subcontractor for at least one year. Kennedy Act allows for 5,000 Iraqi SIVs each year, although the average admission is closer to 800. OtherPetitions for the relatives of other aliens, refugees, or asylees;Humanitarian or significant public benefit parole.
The Refugee Resettlement ProcessUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:RegistrationReferral to Protection, Community Services, Medical, Psychosocial or SleepReferral to Resettlement UnitResettlement interview for matchmaking
UNHCR Referral to USRAPUNHCR refers the case to the U.S. Refugee Admissions ProgramTwo phases: Department of State and Department of Homeland SecurityFIRST: Department of State, subcontracting with Overseas Processing Entity: 2-3 interviewsUltimately filling out an I-590
Acceptance or Rejection: DHS Circuit RidersOPE prepares the file for a DHS circuit rideCircuit riders serve for 3 months, traveling the world and conducting interviewsOne interview, can be as short as one or as long as seven hours in lengthChallenges: no counsel, interpretation, PTSD/mental illness, context and cultural specific knowledge. Other: medical and security clearance
Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project 15 July 2009 Slide *Requests for ReconsiderationWhen refugees are rejected for resettlement, they receive a Notice of Ineligibility for Resettlement, which indicates one or more of a standard list of reasons for rejection. These include:Failure to establish the refugee cannot return to Iraq;Failure to establish persecution or well-founded fear of persecution;Failure to establish persecution due to a protected characteristic or status;Perceived lack of credibility;Evidence that the applicant was a persecutor themselves;Evidence that the applicant is firmly resettled elsewhere;Inadmissibility due to existing legal bars;Other reasons, as provided by U.S. autohrities.Requests for Reconsideration (also Requests for Review, or RFRs) provide an informal means of appealing these rejections, based upon :Error; or,New evidence. Note that these reviews are not technically appeals. Instead, RFRs are an request that USCIS exercise its discretion to reconsider an application.
Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project 15 July 2009 Slide *United States Legal Definition of a Refugee: INCLUSION and EXCLUSION
Asylum - INA 208(b) Applicant must be unable or unwilling to return, and unable or unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of, Iraq because of persecution or well-founded fear of persecution due to:Race;ReligionNationality;Membership in a particular social group; or,Political opinion.Refugee - INA 101(a)(42)(A) Applicant must be located outside Iraq and meet the standard for Asylum at left;ORBe a member of a nationality which the President has designated as qualifying for refugee status.
The definition of a refugee is substantively identical to that of an asylee, but procedurally distinct.
Part 1: Inclusion
U.S. Legal Definition of a RefugeePart 2: Exclusion and InadmissibilityPersecution of othersCredibilityInadmissibility factors: fraud, material supportFails security background check Others: medical, public charge, criminal convictions, drugsExclusion can be appealed. Inadmissibility can be waived.
Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project 15 July 2009 Slide *The Refugee Resettlement ProcessStep 1: Register with UNHCR
Referral for services (community service, medical or protection)Referral for resettlementSleep
Step 2: UNHCR Resttlement InterviewReferral to the United StatesReferral to another safe third country (Canada, Australia, Germany)
Step 3: International Organization for Migration
Step 4: Department of Homeland Security(medical tests, cultural orientation)
Possible outcomes: Acceptance, rejection, deferral
Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project 15 July 2009 Slide *Determining the Reason for RejectionBecause rejection letters are ambiguous, you will likely need to pursue additional investigatory steps to determine the reason for rejection
Review the applicants story with them in detail and try to identify weaknesses from the rejection letter;Thoroughly debrief the applicants final interview with DHS, and maintain a detailed written record :Ask if there were any misunderstandings during the interview;Ask if there were any translation problems;Ask if the mood of the interviewer changed at any point;Ask if the applicant thinks anything went wrong.Ask the applicant why they think they were rejected;Ask the applicant to send you copies of anything they submitted to UNHCR, IOM or DHS;
Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project 15 July 2009 Slide *Rebutting the RejectionA successful RFR must argue in favor of its clients reconsideration for refugee admission based on one of the following factors :Significant error;New evidence; or,Both. An RFR is similar to an asylum application, in that you should provide as much evidence as possible to corroborate the applicants story :Evidence that the applicant gathers, such as records (military service, medical records, pay stubs, etc.), saved letters, or photographs; Evidence that you gather with the applicant, such as affidavits; Evidence that you gather, including newspaper articles, State Department Reports, and the like.
Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project 15 July 2009 Slide *Demonstrating Significant ErrorStandard of Review: Was there a significant error that more likely than not affected the outcome of the case?
This can be demonstrated by :Insufficient fact-finding or analysis;Unsupported Credibility Determination; Applicant not given the opportunity to rebut;Decision not supported by adequate assessment;Issue not material to refugee determination.
Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project 15 July 2009 Slide *Providing New EvidenceStandard of Review: Was the new evidence unavailable at the time of the original interview and if it had been available would it have materially affected the outcome of the case? Reviewers are looking for whether :The evidence is significant and relevant;The applicants failure to present the evidence at the interview was reasonable;The interviewing officer attempted to elicit the relevant information from the applicant;Does the preponderance of evidence indicate that the applicant should qualify for resettlement? Two things to note:Submi