INS’ Mismanagement of Asylees’ Green Card Filings Ruled a “National Embarrasment”
February 13, 2004

In a ruling handed down this past week, Federal Judge Richard H. Kyle, of the U.S. District Court of Minnesota, condemned the INS for unlawfully failing to adjust the status of 22,000 asylees waiting to become permanent residents. Calling the INS’ (now CIS) mismanagement of these cases, a “national embarrassment,” Judge Kyle ordered the government to immediately begin to adjust the status of thousands of immigrants who have been granted asylum and have had their applications for permanent residence pending for as long as 5 or more years.

Hailed as a major victory for asylees in the U.S., the ruling may signify a new chapter in U.S. immigration law and set a higher standard for CIS’ accountability to the public.

As a matter of law, an asylee (an individual granted asylum in the US after proving that they were persecuted in their home country on account of their race, religion, political belief or social group) becomes eligible to apply to adjust their status to that of a permanent resident 1 year after being granted asylum. Federal law, however, limits the number of asylees eligible to actually be granted resident status to 10,000 per fiscal year. Although the number of asylees applying for residence each year outnumbers the supply of available visas and a certain amount of delay is clearly unavoidable, the waiting period faced by this class of plaintiffs was deemed completely unwarranted and unreasonable.

Due to counting discrepancies, disorganization and a rash of other administrative shortcomings on the part of the INS, asylees applying for permanent resident status have been known to wait 5 + years for their applications to be finally approved and be issued their alien registration card (“green card”).

The ruling came as a result of a national class action suit filed on behalf of more than 150,000 asylees in the U.S. by the American Immigration Law Foundation in Washington, D.C., the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute in Boston and other organizations.

Judge Kyle also criticized the INS’ delays in processing work permits for the asylees in question. According to the ruling, the INS’ improperly required these asylees to reapply for their work permits every year–a procedure that comes with a filing fee of $120.00. These delays have resulted in unnecessary paperwork and extraneous fees when the law states that asylees are to be automatically granted their work permits and those permits are to remain valid as long as the asylee remains in that status.

Update on New Immigration Legislation

As of this writing, there is no news to report regarding significant developments in Congress’ discussion on the enactment of any major immigration legislation.

Copyright © 2004-2008, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois