Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Department of Homeland Security to create new provisions to anti-terrorist laws

In the past, laws administered by the Department of Homeland Security made the process of obtaining asylum in the U.S. nearly impossible for foreigners who were forced to aid rebel groups. New provisions, set to begin this week, seek a balance that will provide assistance to refugees in the most need without threatening national security, the International Herald Tribune reported late last week.

Under current legislation, women who are kidnapped, raped, and then forced into domestic servitude by groups deemed terrorists are denied refugee status simply because of their affiliation with such groups. The new provisions seek to assist asylum-seekers in such clear cases.

In addition to extensive intelligence and background checks, the new process will require applicants to show that they were forced to aid rogue groups. Such legislation would specifically help vulnerable groups in Tibet, Burma, and Viet Nam. However, any person who has aided a member of Al Qaeda will still not be allowed refugee status.

While the new provisions augment the number of ethnic groups allowed to apply for refugee status, they may not allow certain members of these groups to apply - particularly any person that has participated in armed combat - potentially dividing families. Critics believe that these types of restrictions adversely affect vulnerable refugees at the greatest risk in their home countries.

For the full article, click here.


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