Articles Posted in Asylum

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Syria.jpgProminent Immigration Lawyer Ghassan “Gus” Shihab, who is of Syrian origin himself applauds the US government for announcing that it will designate Syria for Temporary Protected Status. Because of the worsening security situation in Syria, the US Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) stated on Friday March 23, 2012 that it will designate Syria for an 18 month TPS. The details as to how and when Citizens of Syria currently in the US can apply for this benefit will be announced in few days.

If you are a Syrian national presently in the US, such designation will allow you to remain in the United States legally, and to receive work authorization and travel privileges, so long as Syria continues to be renewed for TPS designation. The designation is not effective yet, but the US Citizenship & Immigration Service (“USCIS”) will host a public meeting to discuss the process and how and when applications will be accepted. The designation is expected to become effective this coming week. Attorney Gus Shihab of The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates will be attending this meeting and will post here on the latest developments.
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mr-map_03242012.gifA Mauritanian woman named Marieme (a pseudonym) who lives in Cincinnati recently shared her story with CNN, telling how she escaped a life of slavery in her home country and obtained asylum, followed by citizenship, in the United States. Asylum is a means by which people who fear persecution in another country can obtain legal immigration status in the United States. Her story demonstrates how people who fear the conditions in their country of origin may find hope here.

Mauritania, a country in west Africa, was the last nation in the world to formally abolish slavery, according to CNN, only doing so in 1981. Still, slavery remains an “open secret,” with as much as ten to twenty percent of the Mauritanian people living in a state of slavery. The CIA’s World Factbook states that half of the population still relies on livestock and agriculture to survive. The country has extensive natural resources, but most are subject to extraction by foreigners. A military junta currently runs the government, according to the CIA, after a 2008 coup deposed the democratically-elected president. The country faces conflict between different ethnic groups.
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Sheriff Arpaio.jpgMiriam Mendiola-Martinez, a foreign national of Mexico, filed a lawsuit in Arizona last week against Maricopa County Sheriff, Joseph M. Arpaio alleging that she was mistreated while she was pregnant as an inmate in the Sheriff’s jail. She was six months pregnant when she was arrested in 2009 on charges of identity theft. The suit states that her Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated by the MCSO’s infliction of cruel and unusual punishment, deliberate indifference to her serious medical needs, and disparate treatment. The lawsuit alleges that MCSO and Maricopa Medical Center’s unconstitutional policies, practices, acts and omissions, Ms. Mendiola-Martinez suffered immediate and irreparable injury, including physical, psychological and emotional injury and risk of death.

According to the lawsuit, Ms. Mendiola-Martinez was undernourished at the jail due to what jail staff called a “special” pregnancy diet. These pregnancy meals consisted of items such as two slices of bread, two slices of cheese or ham, undistinguishable cooked vegetables, and an occasional piece of fruit. She was also given two small cartons of milk per day. This hardly seems to be enough food for a pregnant woman eating for two.
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Clock.jpgA class action lawsuit was filed last week against US immigration agencies on behalf of many asylum applicants who were wrongly denied work authorization, A.B.T., K.M.-W., G.K., L.K.G., D.W. v. USCIS; EOIR (Case No. 2:11-cv-02108 A.B.T). The nationwide lawsuit was filed by the American Immigration Council’s Legal Action Center (LAC) against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in the United States District Court in Seattle. The suit alleges that the USCIS and EOIR delays violate the Constitution, federal statutes, and governing regulations.

Asylum seekers are not eligible for work authorization during the 180-day period after the application is filed. But according to federal law, asylum applicants are to be granted work authorization after the application has been pending for 180 days. Due to unlawful and unfair practices and policies, U.S. immigration agencies have prevented asylum seekers from obtaining work authorization after the 180-day waiting period has elapsed. For example, one named plaintiff in the lawsuit is a man from China who filed his asylum application in 2003, and he has been pursuing work authorization for years without success.
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