July 1, 2013
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) has been renewed for Syrians in the U.S. Due to the deteriorating humanitarian and safety conditions in Syria, the U.S. government has re-designated Temporary Protected Status for Syrians who are in the U.S. If you already have TPS, you must file your renewal on or before August 16, 2013. If you do not have TPS, and would like to file for the first time, you must file your application on or before December 16, 2013. Please note that TPS will only help Syrians who were currently in the U.S. as of June 17, 2013, it does not help Syrians who are outside the U.S. Please contact AROC, if you would like help with your TPS application (415) 861-7444.
There have been reports of U.S. citizens’ civil rights abuses, passport confiscation, harassment, and interrogation at the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa. The Embassy appears to be questioning individuals specifically about their name changes, marital history, and relatives from immediate family members to distant relatives. It also appears that the interrogations and other activities are being conducted by U.S. embassy officials and by officials from other departments of the U.S. government.
As such, AROC does not advise anyone to appear at the embassy unless absolutely necessary. AROC further advises members of the Yemeni community that if they must appear at the embassy that they do not have to answer any questions that they do not wish to, that if they wish, they can choose to discuss only those matters that are relevant for the purposes of their visit at the embassy. Please be aware that officials at the embassy may make promises to you, but they are not required to keep their promises. In the past, officials have used threats and lies to obtain information. Ask for and write down the name and employee number of all the individuals you speak with and report any problems or abuses you experience to AROC at (415) 861-7444.
AROC’s legal services is currently in the process of:
- Filing asylum for individuals who are fear being persecution because of their gender or sexual orientation.
- Applying for lawful permanent residence for tens of refugees and asylees.
- Supporting dozens of individuals with their consular processing cases, where U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents have applied for a relative to join them in the U.S.
- Helped victims of abusive relationships independently apply for lawful permanent residence.
A recent example of the power of community support:
The U.S. government was trying to deport Khalil, and AROC stepped in to represent him. Khalil was granted asylum a few years ago. He would have been able to apply for a green card a year after he was granted asylum. But he did not apply. Unfortunately, he got into some trouble with the law and was given probation. While trying to help someone, he violated his probation and was sent to prison. Khalil thought he would be free after he served his sentence. But because of the recent cooperation between local officials and federal immigration enforcement, the prison handed him over to ICE when he completed his sentence.
As a result of this relationship between local law and federal immigration enforcement, Khalil was detained by ICE and had to challenge being deported in Immigration Court. We were able to successfully stop his deportation and help him to get his green card! Without the help of you-our community members-AROC would not be able to provide legal services and defend our community in the face of these unjust laws and policies.
Abdo came to the U.S. to visit and go to school. While here, Abdo slowly began the process of realizing and publicly accepting his transgender identity. It was difficult for him because he had suppressed his identity and sexual orientation throughout his entire life. He always tried to act normal. However, Abdo’s status expired in the U.S., and the U.S. government tried to deport him. We represented Abdo in Immigration Court and he was successfully granted asylum.
Saleh came to our office to ask for help with applying for asylum. He was afraid to return to his home country because of the serious and pervasive system of discrimination against individuals of his ethnic and tribal background. The government of his home country did not let people of his tribal background work, own property, drive, attend public schools, or travel freely within their country. In fact, his country considered him an illegal resident. He feared for his life and liberty if he were to return to his home country. Through our representation, Saleh was successfully granted asylum.
Mohmoud was scared to return to his home country because of his conversion from Islam to Christianity. Mr. Mohmoud was afraid of being abuse, imprisoned, tortured or even killed. The government of Mr. Mohmoud’s home country is led by a religious group that recently imprisoned individuals for their decision to convert from Islam to Christianity. We represented Mr. Mohmoud and were able to secure asylum for him.
Several weeks ago, our staff attorney met with a North African woman, who came to talk about her son’s immigration process. Sara applied for her 1 year old son a few years ago and paid an attorney to help her with the process. Even though that was a stretch for her – she can’t even afford a permanent apartment, she’s living out of a motel.
Sara came to AROC to get a better understanding of what was happening with her son’s case. She said she tried going to her attorney recently but could not reach her. She was distressed and didn’t understand why her lawyer wasn’t responding to her – especially considering she had given her attorney gifts of gold on top of what she paid her. AROC was happy to help as it seemed like there was something wrong with the way she was being represented, but she was very – very – frightened of her attorney finding out that she sought help from another attorney. She was scared that the attorney might do something to sabotage her immigration case. It took her a while to agree to let us simply contact the embassy and get a case status update.
Luckily for her she agreed, because when we emailed the embassy, we received a response that her son had been already scheduled for an appointment! She immediately booked a flight to attend it with her son and we’re happy to report her son received a visa and they came home to the US together.