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Eligibility For Asylum, Derivative Asylum, Temporary Protected Status, The R-a Rule

Protection granted to ALIENS who cannot return to their homeland.

Asylum is not to be confused with refuge, although the terms are sometimes used inter-changeably. An alien who wishes to emigrate to another country is granted refugee status before leaving his or her native country. An asylum seeker (or asylee) seeks that status after arriving in the new country.

People who live in fear of being tortured or killed by their government often seek asylum, as do people who are persecuted for their religious or political beliefs. The United States has long been a haven for asylum seekers; in colonial days people came to America to escape religions persecution, and in later years people in danger of political torture have seen the United States as a place of hope and safety. In times of crisis, the United States has sometimes placed restrictions on who can enter the country. Immigration restrictions were enacted immediately after World Wars I and II. The SEPTEMBER 11TH TERRORIST ATTACKS on New York City and Washington, D.C., likewise changed the picture for immigration. Nonetheless, the United States remains committed to providing a safe haven for people whose governments intend to do them harm.

Asylum in the United States is regulated under Section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which was passed in 1952 and amended periodically afterward. Previously, asylum matters were handled by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The Homeland Security Act of 2002 created three new agencies to handle all matters formerly handled by the INS. These new agencies, the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS); the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection; and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement were made part of the HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT that became operational in March 2003. Information about the new organizations and its structure was available online at <uscis.gov> (accessed December 5, 2003). Although the BCIS was technically a new agency, it was to continue to conduct all business, including processing applications and requests, as the INS had.


Kimmel, Barbara Brooks, and Alan M. Lubiner. 2000. Immigration Made Simple: An Easy-to-Read Guide to the U.S. Immigration Process. Chester, N.J.: Next Decade.

Nicholson, Frances, and Patrick Twomey, eds. 1999. Refugee Rights and Realities: Evolving International Concepts and Regimes. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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