So I know that ranting on this subject could potentially render me on some government watch list or subject to the Bush administration’s domestic wiretaps, but I have to rant on how much I despise Department of Homeland Security regarding their regulations of refugees. I have been attempting to help a Sudanese refugee (who was badly injured on the job working on an Alaskan fishing ship), apply for Lawful Permanent Resident status. Unforutnately, due to a law (which I can only assume that was passed by the Republicans who control Congress and signed by President Bush) only 10,000 refugees can be granted LPR status yearly. As many as 40,000+ refugees apply for LPR status yearly. This means that my friend Thichiot will be placed on a waiting list that could mean that he doesn’t have LPR status granted until at LEAST 2016. How does this represent American values? Here are people who meet the very definition of tired, poor, and weary, because their lives have been uprooted by conflict and war, and here we are as Americans telling them, they have to wait, almost a lifetime, before they can feel the full benefits of our legal system. And truthfully, they don’t even feel them as LPR. They really have to wait an additional FIVE years after their LPR status is granted, until they can apply for US citizenship and then they still have to wait again for their applications to be processed. It is disturbing. It is un-American. It makes me ashamed to be an American and tell people who have already suffered so much that because of intense xenophobia in Washington they must continue to wait. This is not protecting American citizens or American values. This is merely showcasing our arrogance and lack of goodwill due to the rest of humanity. It is humiliating, but I have to tell Thichiot that his hopes of becoming a LPR will not be fulfilled anytime soon.
***** A subsequent correction to this post – I was wrong. Thichiot does not have to wait ten years because he is a refugee. Refugees can still be adjusted without the statutory wait. HOWEVER, the limitations in numbers still apply to people who were granted asylum in the US. The difference between a refugee and asylee turns only on one small fact – refugees are granted asylum in the US before they come to the US, while asylees are granted asylum after coming to the US (and then filing for asylum to be granted here as means of giving them a status with immigration). It is still lame. Asylees have to show the same standard to be granted asylum as refugees must show before they come to the country.