News: US Immigration Law and Refugees

Home  /  Human Rights Watch  /  Current Page

Some days ago, this blog reported on the denial of permanent residency for Saman Kareem Ahmad, an Iraqi translator who worked for the US Marine Corps in Iraq. The denial was based on the premise that Ahmad had been part of an “undesginated terrorist organization,” or the armed wing of the KDP, a Kurdish political party in Iraq that was a foe of Saddam Hussein. Joanne Mariner, of FindLaw, elucidates the legal framework that has kept Ahmad, and others like him, from living permanently in the US:

“Was George Washington a terrorist?” asked Bill Frelick, Human Rights Watch’s refugee policy director, only semi-facetiously.

What sparked his question was the exceedingly broad definition of terrorist activity employed in U.S. immigration law. That definition, as expanded in the USA PATRIOT Act and REAL ID Act, applies to “any activity which is unlawful under the laws of the place where it is committed,” when that activity involves the use of a weapon or “dangerous device” with the intent “to endanger, directly or indirectly, the safety of one or more individuals or to cause substantial damage to property.”

The patent unfairness of this broad ban has garnered congressional attention and, as of last year, the problem was supposed to have been remedied. In December, Congress passed legislation that broadened executive authority to grant waivers to deserving refugees who would otherwise be barred under the law’s overly broad “terrorism”-related bans.

Mariner goes on to recommend use of waivers, which are handled on a case by case basis, and eventually, a redefinition of the broad clause defining terrorist activity.

The good news, that Matthew of this blog has reported, is that the US immigration services will temporarily stop the denial of green cards for dissidents, such as Ahmad.

Hat tip: The Ground Truth in Iraq blog.


Leave a Reply

More from TLP