Protection and Reduction of Statelessness in U.S.

Article 13 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Recent email from UNHCR

Dear Mikhail -


Greetings from Washington. We appreciate your reaching out and providing updates as to the efforts you’ve taken to follow up on your case, both with UNHCR HQ and via other avenues. This email provides information specifically on the requests that you have submitted to UNHCR.


You have requested that UNHCR facilitate your resettlement outside the United States. At this point, we are unfortunately unable to do so in your case. Resettlement is an extraordinary remedy to find a durable solution for refugees (each year only 10% of refugees that need resettlement worldwide can actually benefit from it) and is typically based on pressing protection needs (threat to a refugee’s life, for treatment of a severe medical condition, etc.). Moreover, UNHCR does not currently engage in resettlement of refugees out of the U.S., nor do we generally engage in resettlement solely on the basis of statelessness. As such, we cannot fulfil this request.


Additionally, you requested that UNHCR issue a travel document to facilitate your departure from the United States and entry into another country. As we have explained before (please see attached), neither UNHCR nor the UN has the authority to issue travel documents for stateless individuals. As such, we regrettably cannot comply with this request, either.


Please note that individuals without travel documents may be eligible for an emergency one‑way travel document for humanitarian reasons through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The ICRC laissez-passers are issued for humanitarian reasons and are valid for one-way travel only and only for travel to a country that has already agreed to allow the individual to enter.  This would require you to obtain advance permission to enter a third country, and then subsequently request an ICRC laissez-passer.


For more information regarding the procedure to apply for such a travel document, you can contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross, which will provide you more information and the necessary forms to make a request for travel documents.  Please be aware that foreign country immigration officials are not obliged to honor the travel document issued by the ICRC, but many of them do so.  If you don’t have the contact information for the local Red Cross chapter in your area, you can also contact the National American Red Cross office in Washington, DC.


Although we cannot assist you in the ways you have requested, UNHCR remains committed to assisting you in finding administrative solutions to help alleviate the hardships you and other stateless people face in the United States. In your case, this includes on-going support for renewal of your parole status, as well as on-going support for reopening your underlying asylum claim before the immigration judge in Texas. UNHCR has supported both efforts in the past and would be very willing to do so again. We also continue to advocate for adoption of a statelessness determination procedure and pathway to citizenship for stateless people under U.S. law. We look forward to continuing to provide you this support and to field related requests from you and your legal counsel.


Again, thank you for your on-going contact and engagement. We regret that given the existing legal and political framework, we are unable to assist you in the ways you have requested, but again, we remain committed to supporting you and other stateless people in the U.S. and globally. As always, please do not hesitate to reach our or have your legal counsel reach out with requests for our assistance.


No movement from U.S. Government and no answer from ICE

Since I was paroled into the United States nothing positive had happened so far. I arrived in March and now we are in October. My humanitarian parole expires in March 2014 which basically means I’ll be again without status. I am ringing the bell and no answer. I am trying to communicate with UNHCR to assist me if possible to relocate me to another country in EU that has provision related to the protection of stateless person and no answer from them either. Immigration authorities advised my lawyer to file for new asylum case which we did back on July 8 but USCIS has rejected new asylum case advising us to file for motion to reopen old case. ICE in Houston, TX where originally my asylum case was filed in 1996 is not willing to join motion to reopen leaving us hanging in the air. Here are the emails from my lawyer:

As Mr. ……. notes, very little is happening in the world of immigration during the shutdown. ICE will not answer their phones and immigration courts are handling only the cases of detained people in removal proceedings. I’m not sure about USCIS, but I would imagine they are only working on matters deemed “essential.” My guess is that your case will not be on the radar until things get started up again.
I’m very sorry.”

"We cannot file anything. The courts are not functioning.

We need to wait for the government to restart, and hopefully get a response from Mr. Gleckman about what USCIS is thinking. If Mr. Gleckman says that USCIS will not engage, then we can talk about a motion to reopen. I’m still not sure that is going to get us anywhere though.
Ironically, our best option for getting into immigration court in LA may be to let your parole expire, file the asylum application again, and hope that puts you into proceedings (because you will have no status). Then we will finally be able to get in front of someone to argue the case.
For now though, we need to wait and see when the U.S. Congress is going to let us get back to work.”
This is how our democratic country operates. Great example in international arena in regards to human rights and protection of stateless persons.

Update on my case. No movement so far

I am writing to follow up on Mikhail’s case, as we appear to have arrived at a standstill once again and I am trying to identify our best way forward.

Where we stand currently: ICE Houston refused to join a motion to reopen after Mikhail’s return to the US from AS because the Chief Counsel did not believe that there was a case to reopen. An affirmative asylum application on Mikhail’s behalf was returned by USCIS in Laguna Niguel stating that USCIS does not have jurisdiction to adjudicate the application and instructing us to reopen the case. ICE Chief Counsel in Houston refused again to consider reopening, as he believes USCIS has erred in its jurisdictional assessment. ICE has sent the matter to USCIS through an inter-agency liaison, and he claims that USCIS should contact me. I have received not contact from USCIS and do not expect ICE to follow up.
Mikhail is understandably concerned that his parole expires early next year, and he would like some resolution to his case before then. Two routes seemingly available are to (1) file a motion to reopen without ICE joining; (2) refile the asylum application with a cover letter explaining the situation. Neither of these is a particularly good option, but I am trying to identify which is better. ”


U.S. Immigration Reform May Finally Help Stateless People - See more at:‘stateless’-people#sthash.wkTvgmft.dpuf

There are roughly 4,000 ‘citizens of nowhere’ in the United States today. They are from Kuwait, Burma, the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, and many other places. Legally speaking, however, they don’t belong anywhere. No country claims them as citizens. Some were rendered stateless after their nations disintegrated; others were stripped of their rights because of ethnic, racial, gender, or religious discrimination in their home countries. - See more at:‘stateless’-people#sthash.wkTvgmft.dpuf

Statelessness dilemma. My op-ed in Washington Post

Edward Snowden’s efforts to escape the transit zone of the Moscow airport have turned a spotlight on the issue of “statelessness.” Snowden, however, is not stateless. He has options, regardless of how unappealing he may find them. But thousands of people in the United States are stateless — and trapped. Congress should take steps to address this issue and ensure that what has happened to me never happens to anyone else.

S. 744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act 113th Congress, 2013–2015. Text as of Jun 27, 2013 (Passed the Senate (Engrossed)).

(a) In General- Chapter 1 of title II (8 U.S.C. 1151 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:

a) Stateless Persons-

‘(1) IN GENERAL- In this section, the term ‘stateless person’ means an individual who is not considered a national under the operation of the laws of any country.

‘(2) DESIGNATION OF SPECIFIC STATELESS GROUPS- The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, may, in the discretion of the Secretary, designate specific groups of individuals who are considered stateless persons, for purposes of this section.

‘(b) Status of Stateless Persons-

‘(1) RELIEF FOR CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS DETERMINED TO BE STATELESS PERSONS- The Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General may, in his or her discretion, provide conditional lawful status to an alien who is otherwise inadmissible or deportable from the United States if the alien—

‘(A) is a stateless person present in the United States;

‘(B) applies for such relief;

‘(C) has not lost his or her nationality as a result of his or her voluntary action or knowing inaction after arrival in the United States;

‘(D) except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3), is not inadmissible under section 212(a); and

‘(E) is not described in section 241(b)(3)(B)(i).

‘(2) INAPPLICABILITY OF CERTAIN PROVISIONS- The provisions under paragraphs (4), (5), (7), and (9)(B) of section 212(a) shall not apply to any alien seeking relief under paragraph (1).

‘(3) WAIVER- The Secretary or the Attorney General may waive any other provisions of such section, other than subparagraphs (B), (C), (D)(ii), (E), (G), (H), or (I) of paragraph (2), paragraph (3), paragraph (6)(C)(i) (with respect to misrepresentations relating to the application for relief under paragraph (1)), or subparagraphs (A), (C), (D), or (E) of paragraph (10) of section 212(a), with respect to such an alien for humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity, or if it is otherwise in the public interest.

‘(4) SUBMISSION OF PASSPORT OR TRAVEL DOCUMENT- Any alien who seeks relief under this section shall submit to the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General—

‘(A) any available passport or travel document issued at any time to the alien (whether or not the passport or document has expired or been cancelled, rescinded, or revoked); or

‘(B) an affidavit, sworn under penalty of perjury—

‘(i) stating that the alien has never been issued a passport or travel document; or

‘(ii) identifying with particularity any such passport or travel document and explaining why the alien cannot submit it.

‘(5) WORK AUTHORIZATION- The Secretary of Homeland Security may authorize an alien who has applied for and is found prima facie eligible for or been granted relief under paragraph (1) to engage in employment in the United States.

‘(6) TRAVEL DOCUMENTS- The Secretary may issue appropriate travel documents to an alien who has been granted relief under paragraph (1) that would allow him or her to travel abroad and be admitted to the United States upon return, if otherwise admissible.

‘(7) TREATMENT OF SPOUSE AND CHILDREN- The spouse or child of an alien who has been granted conditional lawful status under paragraph (1) shall, if not otherwise eligible for admission under paragraph (1), be granted conditional lawful status under this section if accompanying, or following to join, such alien if—

‘(A) the spouse or child is admissible (except as otherwise provided in paragraphs (2) and (3)) and is not described in section 241(b)(3)(B)(i); and

‘(B) the qualifying relationship to the principal beneficiary existed on the date on which such alien was granted conditional lawful status.

‘(c) Adjustment of Status-

‘(1) INSPECTION AND EXAMINATION- At the end of the 1-year period beginning on the date on which an alien has been granted conditional lawful status under subsection (b), the alien may apply for lawful permanent residence in the United States if—

‘(A) the alien has been physically present in the United States for at least 1 year;

‘(B) the alien’s conditional lawful status has not been terminated by the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General, pursuant to such regulations as the Secretary or the Attorney General may prescribe; and

‘(C) the alien has not otherwise acquired permanent resident status.

‘(2) REQUIREMENTS FOR ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS- The Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General, under such regulations as the Secretary or the Attorney General may prescribe, may adjust the status of an alien granted conditional lawful status under subsection (b) to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence if such alien—

‘(A) is a stateless person;

‘(B) properly applies for such adjustment of status;

‘(C) has been physically present in the United States for at least 1 year after being granted conditional lawful status under subsection (b);

‘(D) is not firmly resettled in any foreign country; and

‘(E) is admissible (except as otherwise provided under paragraph (2) or (3) of subsection (b)) as an immigrant under this chapter at the time of examination of such alien for adjustment of status.

‘(3) RECORD- Upon approval of an application under this subsection, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall establish a record of the alien’s admission for lawful permanent residence as of the date that is 1 year before the date of such approval.

‘(4) NUMERICAL LIMITATION- The number of aliens who may receive an adjustment of status under this section for a fiscal year shall be subject to the numerical limitation of section 203(b)(4).

‘(d) Proving the Claim- In determining an alien’s eligibility for lawful conditional status or adjustment of status under this subsection, the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General shall consider any credible evidence relevant to the application. The determination of what evidence is credible and the weight to be given that evidence shall be within the sole discretion of the Secretary or the Attorney General.

‘(e) Review-

‘(1) ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW- No appeal shall lie from the denial of an application by the Secretary, but such denial will be without prejudice to the alien’s right to renew the application in proceedings under section 240.

‘(2) MOTIONS TO REOPEN- Notwithstanding any limitation imposed by law on motions to reopen removal, deportation, or exclusion proceedings, any individual who is eligible for relief under this section may file a motion to reopen proceedings in order to apply for relief under this section. Any such motion shall be filed within 2 years of the date of the enactment of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.

‘(f) Limitation-

‘(1) APPLICABILITY- The provisions of this section shall only apply to aliens present in the United States.

‘(2) SAVINGS PROVISION- Nothing in this section may be construed to authorize or require—

‘(A) the admission of any alien to the United States;

‘(B) the parole of any alien into the United States; or

‘(C) the grant of any motion to reopen or reconsider filed by an alien after departure or removal from the United States.’.

(b) Judicial Review- Section 242(a)(2)(B)(ii) (8 U.S.C. 1252(a)(2)(B)(ii)) is amended by striking ‘208(a).’ and inserting ‘208(a) or 210A.’.

(c) Conforming Amendment- Section 203(b)(4) (8 U.S.C. 1153(b)(4)) is amended by inserting ‘to aliens granted an adjustment of status under section 210A(c) or’ after ‘level,’.

(d) Clerical Amendment- The table of contents for the Immigration and Nationality Act is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 210 the following:

‘Sec. 210A. Protection of stateless persons in the United States.’.


Stateless people of the United States

The American Path to Citizenship: Mass Statelessness in America

All over the world there is turmoil about how nations turn immigrants into citizens. The debates lay bare distressing truths about racial and cultural divides. Generally, nations make the path to citizenship difficult or impossible, and create pools of stateless people, living in and alienated from their homeland.