As a green card attorney, I know winning asylum cases is not easy.
Over the past year, the Department of Homeland Security reports that 73,293 immigrants were admitted to the United States as refugees during 2009. Based on the 2009 DHS Report on Refugees and Asylees, this represents a decrease of 1.8% from 2009.
When it comes to understanding asylum law, however, this is only the beginning, not the end of the story for immigrants applying for asylum benefits from inside the United States.
Under asylum law, despite the similarity between refugees and asylees, our government treats them as two distinct categories. A far smaller of immigrants, 21, 113, were granted asylum status in 2010.
In short, under both categories the United States government will provide a safe harbor to immigrants in both groups who (a) are unable or unwilling to return to their home country, (b) due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution if they return to their home country and (c) on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Refugees are immigrants living outside the U.S. seeking protection.
For 2010, the maximum amount of refugees who could be admitted was limited to 80,000. This total was not reached. 73,293 were actually admitted in refugee status.
The 2010 total is a drop from the 2009 figure of 74,602.
New Refugees By Country Of Birth
Approximately 64% of new refugees in the U.S. are from just three countries, Iraq, Burma, and Bhutan. Overall, the top nine countries remained the same as in 2009, although some countries moved up and others moved down in the rankings. Ethopia was the only new country in the top ten, replacing Burundi.
The Refugee Crisis In Iraq Act of 2007 was passed by Congress, following the government’s involvement in the Middle East. As could be expected, this has led to a huge increase of Iraqi citizens who qualified for refugee resettlement.
With recent political and social uprisings in various countries, it would not be surprising if new claims from those nations start to rise in the next few years. At my offices, for example, we have already seen a slow increase in potential claims from Egypt.
The top ten countries were:
- 1. Iraq
- 2. Burma
- 3. Bhutan
- 4. Somalia
- 5. Cuba
- 6. Iran
- 7. Congo D.R.
- 8. Enitrea
- 9. Vietnam
- 10. Burundi
New Refugees By Age
- 0 to 17 years old – 34.6%
- 25 to 34 years old – 16.2%
- 18 to 24 years old – 20.4%
- 35 to 44 years old – 13.1%
- 45 to 54 years old – 7.8%
- 55 to 64 years old – 4.4%
- 65 years and older – 3.5%
New Refugees By Gender
- Male – 51.6%
- Female – 48.4%
New Refugees By Marital Status
- Married – 39.0%
- Single – 56.0%
- Other/Unknown – 5.0%
New Refugees By State Of Residence
Being a Hemet immigration lawyer, serving clients from nearby cities like Banning, Beaumont, Moreno Valley, Perris, I keep track of immigration statistics for a variety of administrative reasons.
Once in awhile, like three days ago, a new client asked a question related to this information. This time, the inquiry was about the success of asylum seekers from the client’s home country. Fortunately, I had the answer at my fingertips, having read the Department of Homeland Security’s 2010 study regarding asylee and refugee applications.
- California – 11.7%
- Texas – 10.8%
- New York – 6.2%
- Florida – 5.8%
- Arizona – 4.6%
- Georgia – 4.4%
- Michigan – 4.3%
- Washington – 4.1%
- Pennsylvania – 3.6%
- Illinois – 3.5%
Under asylum law, the second classification is asylees. These are immigrants already living in the U.S. who are seeking protection from persecution in their home countries. Their ability to win benefits is more curtailed than refugees, those immigrants applying from outside the U.S.
Asylees can obtain lawful immigration status in two ways.
First, they can be granted via an interview with an immigration officer after they submit an application. This is called the affirmative asylum process.
Second, they can also be granted legal status in immigration court. Normally, if a immigrant’s affirmative asylum application is denied, their case is referred to immigration court. Asylees may also end up in removal proceedings because they are caught trying to enter the United States.
New Asylees By Country Of Birth
Full statistics are not available for asylees. There is no information on age, gender, and marital status for immigrants who won their asylum deportation defense cases at immigration court. In my view, since these immigrants are living inside the United States, this type of information should be more readily available to our government than data regarding asylees.
As an asylum attorney, I think the statistics would provide interesting insights on the decision-making by immigration officers and judges.
Many potential asylees are trapped between a rock and a hard place. Asylum cases are hard to win. Previous studies have shown that the success rate of asylum cases vary from immigration court to immigration court. In my view many, if not all, asylees should retain immigration counsel before seeking asylum benefits. Yet, most asylees have few, if any, financial resources.
For 2010, the limited information provided by DHS shows the top ten countries for new asylees were:
- 1. China
- 2. Ethopia
- 3. Haiti
- 4. Venezuela
- 5. Nepal
- 6. Colombia
- 7. Russia
- 8. Egypt
- 9. Iran
- 10. Guatemala
By Carlos Batara, Immigration Law, Policy, And Politics