Fewer Haitians Granted Asylum In 2009

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CaribWorldNews, WASHIGNTON, D.C., Fri. April 30, 2010:  The number of Haitian asylum beneficiaries continues to dwindle with each passing year, a CaribWorldNews analysis of latest Department of Homeland Security information indicates.

Last year, just 592 Haitians were given the affirmed status of asylees in the U.S., an almost 50 percent drop from 2007 when 1,055 Haitians were approved for immigration relief.

Those granted asylum status defensively by an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals also decreased, from 510 in 2008 to 406 last year.

By contrast, more Cubans were granted refugee status in the U.S. in 2009 than in the two years prior. A whopping 4,800 Cubans were allowed to become residents of the U.S. last year alone, a slight increase from 4,177 in 2008. But the 2009 numbers reflected an almost doubling of the approved refugees from Cuba when compared to 2007.  No Haitians have been granted refugee status in the past three years.

However, the Haitian trend reflected an overall downward spiral on asylum applications approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The total number of persons granted asylum in the United States decreased slightly from 22,838 in 2008 to 22,119 in 2009. The leading countries of nationality for persons granted asylum in 2009 were China with 28 percent, Ethiopia with 5 percent and Haiti with 4.5 percent. Of the 11,933 persons granted asylum affirmatively in 2009, more than 80 percent were between the ages of 18 and 54.

A total of 74,602 persons were admitted to the United States as refugees during 2009. The leading countries of nationality for refugees were Iraq, Burma, and Bhutan. Fifty percent of refugees admitted to the United States in 2009 were under 25 years of age, with 34 percent under age 18

To be eligible for refugee or asylum status, an applicant must meet the definition of a refugee set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act which states that a person is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

An applicant for refugee status is outside the United States, while an applicant seeking asylum status is in the United States or at a U.S. port of entry.

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