Refugees in the USA – Law, Quotas

Refugees in the USA – Law, Quotas

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Among all legal immigrants, coming every year to the USA, near 10% are refugees and asylum seekers. The international Day of refugees is celebrated on the 20th of June since 2001.

The United States is obliged to recognize valid claims for asylum under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, where were defined all definitions, concerning refugees and  asylum.

As defined by these agreements, a refugee is a person who is outside his or her country of nationality (or place of habitual residence if stateless) who, owing to a fear of persecution on account of a protected ground, is unable or unwilling to avail himself of the protection of the state. Protected grounds include race, nationality, religion, political opinion and membership of a particular social group. The signatories to these agreements are further obliged not to return or “refoul” refugees to the place where they would face persecution.

This commitment was codified and expanded with the passing of the Refugee Act of 1980 by the United States Congress. Besides reiterating the definitions of the 1951 Convention and its Protocol, the Refugee Act provided for the establishment of an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) to help refugees begin their lives in the U.S. The structure and procedures evolved and by 2004, federal handling of refugee affairs was led by the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) of the U.S. Department of State, working with the ORR at HHS.

Asylum claims are mainly the responsibility of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The President of the United States sends a proposal to the Congress for the maximum number of refugees to be admitted into the country for the upcoming year.