Nonimmigrant Admissions to the United States: 2009 (PDF, 10 pages – 485.5 KB)
This report examines the number and characteristics of nonimmigrant admissions in fiscal year 2009.
Data on Nonimmigrant Admissions
Access data on nonimmigrant admissions by class, country, and other characteristics for fiscal year 2009.
Refugees and Asylees: 2009 (PDF, 6 pages – 335 KB)
This report presents information on the number and characteristics of persons admitted as refugees or granted asylum to the United States in fiscal year 2009.
Data on Refugees and Asylees
Access data on persons admitted as refugees or granted asylum in fiscal year 2009 by several characteristics.
Naturalizations in the United States: 2009 (PDF, 4 pages – 320 KB)
This report presents information on the number and characteristics of foreign nationals who became American citizens during fiscal year 2009.
Data on Naturalizations
Access data on persons who became American citizens in fiscal year 2009 by country of birth, state of residence, and other characteristics.
U.S. Legal Permanent Residents: 2009 (PDF, 6 pages – 401 KB)
This report provides information on the number and characteristics of persons who became legal permanent residents during fiscal year 2009.
Data on Legal Permanent Residents
Access data on immigrants who became legal permanent residents in fiscal year 2009 by class of admission, country of birth, state of residence, and other characteristics.
The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks and Overseas Travel to the United States: Initial Impacts and Longer-Run Recovery (PDF, 13 pages – 988 KB)
This Working Paper examines whether the initial decline and eventual recovery of overseas travel to the United States during the post-9/11 period varied according to sending countries’ participation in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2009 (PDF, 8 pages – 292 KB)
This report provides estimates of the unauthorized immigrant population residing in the United States as of January 2009 for periods of entry and leading countries of birth and states of residence.
July 22, 2009
For more than a decade, U.S. administrations have struggled with whether female victims of domestic violence can qualify for asylum. Now, in a move that could bring the issue closer to resolution, the Obama administration is arguing that yes, it’s possible they can.
In court documents recently made public, a Mexican women identified only as “L.R.” says she was abused repeatedly by her husband starting in 1987. According to the documents, he would put a gun to her head and force her to have sex. The woman’s lawyer, Karen Musalo, says once when her client was pregnant with one of the couple’s three children, her husband set fire to the bed she was in.
“She actually tried to get away from him a number of times by coming to the U.S., and then he came to the U.S. and told her that if she didn’t come back he would kill her family.”
L.R. did go back to Mexico, but came to the U.S. again seeking asylum.
Musalo teaches refugee law at the University of California Hastings College of Law in San Francisco and has long been involved with gender-based asylum. She admits it’s a difficult area. Other asylum seekers must prove a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality or political opinion. But Musalo’s abused Mexican client has to fit into another category.
“She has to meet this sticky, amorphous, confusing legal standard to show that she’s what is called a member of a particular social group,” says Musalo.
That social group is battered women, which is, of course, impossibly broad. But in a legal brief in L.R.’s case, the Department of Homeland Security has laid out how this group could be narrowed.
Musalo says that’s a tall order, but a fair one.
“What she would have to show is that violence against women is pervasive, and that it’s so widely accepted that nobody — neighbors, family members — nobody would intervene or try to stop it, and the government certainly wouldn’t intervene,” Musalo says.
The woman would also have to prove she couldn’t find refuge anywhere else in her home country.
The DHS stance is based largely on a similar agency brief from 2004 under President Bush. But then-Attorney General John Ashcroft opposed the position, and the cases of other battered women seeking asylum fell into limbo.
“This is a very problematic way to interpret the law,” says Kris Kobach, a counsel to Ashcroft. He now teaches at the University of Missouri. Kobach points out that courts have previously found this definition of persecution to be “impermissibly circular.”
“Basically the battered woman is saying, ‘I’m being persecuted, that is to say, I’m being battered, because I’m a member of a group.’ What’s the group? People who are being battered.” Kobach says.
But the DHS brief explicity addresses this problem, and Musalo says its more narrow definition of this group of asylum seekers will pass court muster.
Kobach says if the Obama administration wants to change policy, it’d be better off going through Congress. A number of countries, including Germany, Spain and Sweden, have passed laws recognizing persecution based on gender or sex. But Kobach has other concerns. He worries courts would get it wrong a lot, ruling on something so private. And he believes it could be hard for courts to appear fair.
“It’s really hard to draw valid distinctions,” Kobach says. “In other words, why do we let this person have a valid asylum claim in the United States but not another person who is in very similar circumstances?”
In a statement, DHS said each case “requires scrutiny of the specific threat,” and the agency is “interested in developing regulations” to help do that.
Musalo’s Mexican client doesn’t go back to court until next spring.
Seventh Circuit Rules that Woman’s Claim of Forced Marriage Can Constitute a “Changed Circumstance” for Asylum Consideration
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled that a family’s threats to force their daughter into marriage if she returns to their native country of Pakistan qualify as “changed circumstances” under U.S. law and warrant a review of the woman’s asylum case.
“The Seventh Circuit’s decision recognizes that our client’s case should not be dismissed simply because the conditions of her persecution, as in many cases of gender-based violence, are not connected to a dramatic country-wide upheaval,” said Claudia Valenzuela, a managing attorney at Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center who represented asylum seeker Roome Joseph along with pro bono counsel from Mayer Brown LLP.
At the center of the court’s August 27, 2009, opinion in Joseph v. Holder is its recognition that the “changed circumstances” rule under which individuals can seek review of their asylum cases based on new threats of persecution “does not restrict the concept of ‘changed circumstances’ to some kind of broad social or political change in the country, such as a new governing party, as opposed to a more personal or local change.” The court found that any change in an asylum applicant’s home country that materially affects his or her eligibility for asylum is sufficient to qualify as a “changed circumstance” under the law.
Ms. Joseph, 28, came to the United States with her parents and two brothers in 1998 when the family fled religious persecution in Pakistan because of their Christian identity. While the family waited for their asylum application to be processed, Ms. Joseph adapted to U.S. culture and began to live independently. When her family’s asylum application was rejected, Ms. Joseph’s father informed her that he had arranged for her to marry a man in Pakistan, and would disown her if she refused the marriage. As the Seventh Circuit acknowledged, “The stakes are high for Joseph, as in Pakistan she faces either a forced marriage or the prospect of living as a single Christian woman without familial support, a dangerous path in that country.” Ms. Joseph refused to return with her family to Pakistan and she again applied for asylum in the United States.
When Ms. Joseph re-applied for asylum, she cited the threats of forced marriage and persecution she would face as a single woman in Pakistan as “changed circumstances.” The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) rejected this application, stating that the threat of forced marriage was a personal situation that did not qualify as “changed circumstances.” The Seventh Circuit’s ruling overturned that decision and returned the case to the BIA for a full review of the circumstances of Ms. Joseph’s asylum claim.
Read the court’s opinion
The National Immigrant Justice Center, a partner of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, provides direct legal services to and advocates for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through policy reform, impact litigation, and public education.
Voluntary departure is far more beneficial than a deportation. Voluntary departure helps overcome the obstacles to reenter the US such as 3 or 10 year ban provided that the person departed the US within the prescribed time.
Filing an appeal with BIA may allow one to remain until the case decided. If it fails again, a voluntary departure option is given again, on condition that the appeal was filed timely before the expiry of the first voluntary departure time limit.
Typically, the voluntary departure period begins running on the date of the order. However, when a respondent appeals an immigration judge’s (IJ) decision to the BIA, the filing of the appeal automatically stays execution of the IJ’s order. See Matter of A-M-, 23 I&N Dec. 737, 744 (BIA 2005) (citing 8 C.F.R. § 1003.6(a)). Thus, while an appeal is pending, the voluntary departure period is not running and a respondent cannot be charged with failing to depart.2 If the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismisses the appeal, the BIA’s general policy is to reinstate the voluntary departure order for the same amount of time initially ordered by the immigration judge.3 See Matter of A-M-, 23 I&N Dec. at 744.
Voluntary departure carries a number of benefits. First, because it is not a removal order, leaving the United States under voluntary departure does not result in inadmissibility for ten years under INA § 212(a)(9)(A), because of having been removed from the United States. In addition, since it is not a removal order, it does not subject a person to reinstatement of removal, should that person subsequently enter the United States unlawfully. Finally, it allows the individual to leave on his or her own, avoiding the stigma of deportation. Persons who most benefit from a grant of voluntary departure in lieu of removal are those who will ultimately have to travel abroad to obtain their immigrant visas because they do not qualify for adjustment of status.
On the other hand, if the respondent is granted voluntary departure and does not leave in a timely manner, there are significant negative consequences, outlined below.
The statutory requirements for voluntary departure are found at INA § 240B, and the regulations are found at 8 CFR § 240.25 and 8 CFR § 1240.26.
This is Not a Legal Advice. Information is based on the sources/links mentioned above.