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Cleveland Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Becoming a refugee

Individuals wishing to settle in Ohio as refugees will first need a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admission Program. This can be done from the individual's home country. There are several criteria for eligibility including being under threat of persecution due to religion, national origin, race, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. A refugee must not have persecuted others in a similar way.

U.S. immigration law allows spouses and unmarried children under 21 to accompany refugees, and occasionally other family members will be included as well. Refugees can get assistance in filling out their applications, and they will receive assistance with the paperwork as well as help in traveling to and settling in the United States. They are immediately eligible to work.

Spousal abuse to be considered for immigration requests

Ohio residents following immigration reform issues may be interested in a first-time decision of a government board to consider domestic violence in connection with asylum requests. The decision comes in response to a case involving a woman who fled Guatemala in 2005. She reportedly alerted police in her community about her abuse but received no assistance. She crossed into the United States illegally.

The board hearing the case determined that the woman was a member of a specific social group due to the fact that she was a married Guatemalan who could not leave an abusive relationship. The board determined that this fits with at least one of the criteria needed for an individual to be granted asylum. The Department of Homeland Security prosecutes cases involving deportation, and in this case, the department did not contest the argument allowing the case to be returned for a final ruling by an immigration judge. This is viewed as a significant action on the part of the government due to the fact that victims of domestic abuse may now be considered a protected class with greater opportunity for refugee status or asylum in the U.S.

Seeking protection from persecution through U.S. asylum

If you are an immigrant living in Ohio, it may be possible for you to seek asylum in the U.S. under certain conditions. For instance, under immigration law, people who are suffering certain types of persecution in their home country may be granted asylum. This includes persecution due to religious beliefs, race, nationality, political stance and ethnic background in their native country.

Perhaps you came to this country to escape persecution, but you do not have the required paperwork that would allow you to stay indefinitely without the fear of deportation. Once granted U.S. asylum, you do not need to feel threatened about the possibility of being deported, especially since returning to your home country may lead to dangerous consequences or even death.

Study indicates immigrants provide financial and economic boons

Illegal immigration can be a very culturally, politically and socially charged issue in Ohio. To help clarify some of the topics that are frequently brought up in discussions about immigration, many nonprofit organizations and government agencies compile data regarding immigrants’ impact on the United States. Often, this provides illuminating information about the contributions immigrants can make in this country.

A recent report from the Economic Policy Institute indicates that budgets at the federal level benefit from the work of undocumented immigrants. Immigration is also credited with providing economic boons under some circumstances.

ACLU sends Cuyahoga sheriff a letter regarding immigrant arrests

Immigrants in Cuyahoga, Ohio, face unique consequences if they are arrested, including deportation. If these immigrants are also being discriminated against by law enforcement officials, it can be very important that they have proper legal protection. To guard against this, sometimes national civil rights organizations will investigate allegations of systemic discrimination against immigrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union has sent letters to the Cuyahoga sheriff, as well as to six other sheriff offices throughout the state of Ohio. These letters allege that a sheriff in Butler County has held inmates for too long when he believed they were illegal immigrants. Reports do not indicate whether any evidence of this has been produced, or whether the ACLU is planning litigation based on these allegations.

Resistance to immigration detention growing among law enforcement

Many immigrant residents of Cuyahoga, Ohio, trust that their constitutional rights are protected. However, there may be certain intersections of the law in which the borders of these rights are blurred. When these situations arise, law enforcement agencies may choose to push back if they are asked to perform actions that are potentially unconstitutional.

In a growing number of states, law enforcement authorities are resisting immigration detention; over 134 jurisdictions have stated their intentions to stop honoring these requests. These jurisdictions are from various states across the country, including New York, Washington, California, Minnesota and Kansas. Reports do not indicate whether any Ohio agencies are considering joining these efforts.

Immigrants can improve Ohio's economy, argues Global Cleveland

The impact of immigrants and refugees on federal and Ohio economies is a hotly contested issue. Some argue that this influx of people draws too heavily on resources needed by the existing populations of these areas. However, others point out that immigrants and refugees may in fact play a positive role in these economies.

A strong immigrant and refugee population can play a key part in expanding Ohio’s economy and foreign trade potential, states Joy Roller, the president of Global Cleveland. She argues that the presence of these people can revitalize and create local markets and industries, and that the area will not be able to compete internationally if immigrants and refugees are ostracized.

Qualifying for asylum requires high burden of proof

Asylum for refugees is an issue frequently discussed in the news, both nationally and in Ohio. Child refugees in particular garner a great deal of attention, as many come from dangerous areas of the world that are under turmoil due to political upheaval, religious uprisings and illegal drug trafficking. While many argue that these children are innocent victims of circumstances outside of their control, seeking asylum for them is not an easy task.

The burden of proof in an asylum claim is high, states one immigration expert. It is insufficient to show that a persons’ home country is a dangerous place; applicants must establish that they have been specifically targeted due to their membership in a protected group. This expert notes that proving this level of persecution is not always easy, and makes it very difficult to determine at a single glance whether a person will be granted asylum in the United States.

Ohio businesses press for immigration reform

Business leaders, including groups representing agriculture and manufacturing, were active in yesterday’s Day of Action in congressional districts in Ohio and around the nation. Their goal was to push Congress and President Obama to undertake comprehensive immigration reform this year.

The president of the Ohio Fruit Growers Marketing Association noted that in his industry, 80 percent or more of the workers are migrants, many of whom are undocumented. By failing to address immigration reform, including work visas, Congress is putting the nation’s food supply at risk, he said.

New citizens celebrate the Fourth of July early

For U.S. citizens, the celebration of our nation’s independence begins in just two days. But for a group of immigrants who became citizens yesterday, the celebration has already begun.

“I felt the tears come,” an Iranian immigration said of the ceremony at which he raised his right hand became a naturalized citizen of the United States


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