Villanova law students help one of the first gay Russians receive asylum, more on the way

This story published last week in the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette gives us some insight into the asylum process in the US especially as it relates to illegal aliens coming across our Mexican border and declaring themselves gay and persecuted.    We see how legal clinics, NGOs and refugee contractors work to get as many granted asylum as they can.

Villanova law professor Michele Pistone has helped 125 aliens receive asylum since 2000.

Also, the article answers one of my questions—-where are all these detainees being housed?  Turns out that some police departments rent bed space to the feds.

I still have one big question plaguing me—how do we know someone isn’t pretending to be gay just to get into the US?

Pittsburgh-Post Gazette (emphasis mine):

A gay man last month became one of the first Russian citizens granted asylum in the United States since their home country adopted a ban against gay “propaganda.”

The man was granted asylum Nov. 20 by a U.S. Immigration Court judge in York, Pa., thanks to the efforts of a team of students working with Villanova University School of Law’s Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services, or CARES.

He took a “vacation” to Cuba then made his way to the Mexican border! If he was so persecuted, why didn’t he ask for asylum in Cuba.  It looks like the Cuban government is in on the scheme though because they clearly let him leave for Mexico (and did not send him back to Russia).

The Russian, whose name was redacted from court documents, took advantage of the visa reciprocity between Russia and Cuba, taking a “vacation” to Cuba. From there he made it to Mexico and then used the compass on his phone to cross the Rio Grande into the United States, where he was picked up by border patrol in June. He immediately sought asylum.

The man ended up in the York County detention facility and the case was referred to CARES, which is directed by law professor Michele Pistone.

Since the mid-1990s, the York County jail has rented out space to the United States to house immigrant detainees. Early on, it became clear the detainees were too far from legal assistance, Ms. Pistone said. So the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center was set up right down the road. PIRC offers detainees seminars on their rights and the Russian refugee attended one such seminar and was connected with CARES, Ms. Pistone said.

Being in “jail” can actually speed up the asylum process:

While it may have been a traumatic experience for the Russian refugee, Ms. Pistone said being in jail may have sped up the asylum process. Ms. Pistone said the backlog for a hearing in immigration courts for those not in jail can be two years.

Ms. Pistone’s client, meanwhile, had his hearing less than six months from when he entered the country.

50 more such cases!  All gay Russian cases pending in courts?

Ms. Majkut (a law student) worked with Immigration Equality and the Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center for research on this case. She said those organizations have seen an influx of gay Russians calling with questions about asylum as well as the number of Russians defensively seeking asylum, meaning they are already detained and are facing adversarial proceedings.

Ms. Majkut said those organizations have upwards of 50 cases similar to her client’s that are pending in immigration court.

Now that the Russian gay man has received asylum, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (a federal refugee contractor) has stepped in to get him his “benefits” (welfare goodies)!  Coincidentally, when I went to the refugee pow-wow in Lancaster, PA last June I sat in on one session involving HIAS’s leading work with gay “refugees.”

The client has been working with the immigration-focused public interest firm HIAS Pennsylvania to get benefits the government pays to refugees. He has since found an apartment and is looking for work, Ms. Pistone said.

Photo is here along with Ms Pistone’s bio.  Oh geez, I see she went to Malta in 2006.  I wonder if she was ‘helpful’ in making Malta a gateway for African refugees to the US because it began about that time?  See our entire ‘Malta’ archive by clicking here.

UK Independence Party turnabout: Bring in the Syrians!

Update:  Farage drops call for all Syrian refugees, says Christians only.  Hat tip: Joanne

Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, has riled his followers by declaring it’s time to bring in the Syrian refugees.  Yesterday we reported how the Syrian flow into Turkey was destabilizing that government, now the UK political party whose followers joined largely because it had declared that England was “full-up” has been shaken to its core by Farage’s declaration.

Nigel Farage has angered his followers, wants the UK to admit Syrian refugees.

Here is a bit of the Daily Mail on the story that fills my Syrian alerts today:

Nigel Farage faced a backlash from his own supporters last night after calling for Britain to admit refugees from the civil war in Syria.

Supporters of the UK Independence Party denounced their leader after Mr Farage used an interview with the BBC yesterday to call for Britain to allow those fleeing Syria to come to the UK.

He said refugees fleeing from conflicts were ‘a very different thing’ from economic migrants.

But he was attacked online by UKIP supporters – who said the country was already ‘full up’ and warned they would no longer vote for UKIP unless he changes his mind.

Mr Farage’s policy goes further than the Coalition, which has limited its help to financial support for countries taking in refugees.

The Daily Mail has a list of on-line critics of Farage and what they said about this new position.

And, here we go again, a “conservative,” knees knocking, fearing being labeled a racist:

He did not put a figure on how many of the nine million Syrians displaced by war who should be allowed into the UK, but Labour has said Britain should accept up to 500.

Mr Farage’s intervention appeared to be an attempt to show voters that UKIP is not opposed to all immigration following months of accusations from political rivals that the party is racist.


Former shadow minister David Davis said: ‘It’s about Mr Farage trying to reposition his party so that the anti-immigration argument, which is so important to them, is not seen as a barbaric argument, so from that point of view there is a bit of political positioning going on.

“The solution is not taking a few hundred people to make us feel happier.”

My sentiments exactly!  And, if the US takes 2,000 Syrians it will be for the same reason!

The Daily Mail wraps up with this:

Fellow Conservative Andrew Brigden branded Mr Farage’s comments ‘political tokenism’.

‘These are Syrian people who want to live in Syria. The solution is not taking a few hundred people to make us feel happier,’ he said. ‘What we need is a politically-negotiated solution to this problem.’

Hear! Hear!