Law Offices of Janet J. Greathouse
Immigration and Nationality Law
Changes to Asylum Procedures Announced

With war looming, the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published an "Operation Liberty Shield" Fact Sheet, which includes a statement regarding the detention of asylum seekers.  Specifically, asylum applicants "from nations where al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda sympathizers, and other terrorist groups are known to have operated" will be detained during the processing of their applications.  The stated justification for this change is that this new procedure will allow authorities to maintain contact with asylum seekers while determining the validity of their claims.  DHS and the Department of State will coordinate exceptions to this policy. 

In a press briefing, Secretary Tom Ridge further explained that the new policy is predicated on ensuring the proper identity of the asylum seeker and the legitimacy of the
asylum claim.  Secretary Ridge did not specify the number of countries that will be targeted, stating that, "there are countries who we believe are supportive of al-Qaeda or countries where we know there is an al-Qaeda network or other terrorist organizations and it will be those countries we are looking at specifically."

For further information on the Operation Liberty Shield Fact Sheet and the press briefing, please visit the DHS web site at
www.dhs.gov.
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