Refugees must adjust their immigration status at the end of first year in the US

I mentioned this story back in early December, here, but I don’t think I had the link for the report that must have spawned the story (or is certainly part of the political campaign). Here is a link to the Human Rights Watch report provactively titled “Jailing Refugees” which says refugees are being detained by ICE and face deportation if they fail to update their immigration status. 

The report claims that no one advises refugees to do this necessary paperwork.  So where are the government contracted resettlement agencies?  Isn’t this part of their job? 

Each year, the US government sends officials to refugee camps overseas to interview thousands of people displaced by persecution and conflict, classifies a select number as refugees in need of resettlement, and brings those refugees to live in the United States.

After one year in the United States, every resettled refugee is required to apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, more familiarly known as a “green card.” However, refugees’ limited English, ignorance about the requirement, confusion over the legal process, and lack of resources, as well as the government’s failure to notify them of the requirement, often prevents them from timely filing to adjust their legal status. In some parts of the country, the consequence of not applying can be lengthy, indefinite and arbitrary detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The purpose of this report is to encourage legislative and policy changes that will eliminate the potential for indefinite detention of resettled refugees for failure to file for adjustment to lawful permanent resident status after one year in the US.

Instead of eliminating detention, why not write a law that specifically says resettlement agencies (or state refugee agencies) are responsible for this notification requirement.   It might also force resettlement agencies to keep track of refugees they resettle—something not presently required.

Refugees are supposed to notify Homeland Security when they move, but I wonder how many actually do.

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