Refugees incarcerated for not finishing paperwork?

O.K. this doesn’t make any sense to me, there must be some facts left out of this report from “Immigration Impact” , a pro-immigration website. 

If refugees “have not adjusted to permanent resident status after one year of residency in the U.S” they can be locked up?   For not completing paperwork?  Well, who’s fault would that be?  Either some refugee resettlement agency wasn’t doing its job and helping refugees understand the law and get it done, or there is something shady going on with the refugee. 

Here are the first three paragraphs of the report, read the whole thing, then if any readers know what the real story is, please let us know.

Last month, President Obama authorized the admission of 80,000 refugees into the U.S. in fiscal year 2010, something every President has done annually since passage of the Refugee Act of 1980. The United States has long recognized the importance of providing a safe haven for refugees. Beginning with laws granting refugee status to displaced persons after World War II and culminating with the comprehensive Refugee Act of 1980, the U.S. has sought to safeguard those who are unwilling or unable to return to their homeland based on a “well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”

Despite this commitment to helping refugees resettle in the U.S. permanently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its sub-agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have adopted a policy of incarcerating refugees who have not adjusted to permanent resident status after one year of residency in the U.S. (“unadjusted refugees”). Often ICE comes in contact with unadjusted refugees who have had some contact with local law enforcement; however ICE also has detained refugees who have no criminal charges pending against them. In recent months, advocates have alerted DHS and ICE about such detained refugees in regions including Minneapolis, MN; Florence, AZ; Eloy, AZ; York, PA; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA.

ICE defends this detention policy by citing section 209(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act which states that refugees who have not acquired permanent resident status after one year “shall return or be returned to the custody of the Department of Homeland Security for inspection and examination for admission.” ICE says “return to custody” means that refugees who have not applied for permanent resident status after one year may be detained and held while they complete their adjustment application and while ICE’s sister organization, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), adjudicates it. This interpretation is particularly unfair since the law prohibits refugees from applying for permanent residence until one year after they have been admitted to the U.S. as refugees. In essence, ICE detains refugees for not doing what the law bars them from doing.

Note that some of the so-called “unadjusted refugees” have come to ICE’s attention when they broke other laws.

Also, one can see from this the power a resettlement agency must hold over a law-abiding refugee because the refugee is dependent on the agency to help him or her get through the paperwork hurdles in order to become citizens.

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