Good News for Asylees in the United States

Don’t Forget to Ask Me a Question

Dear Fayera,

There’s still time left to send me a question for the Carter Center’s 30th Anniversary celebration online video series. I’ll answer questions from the public about the Center’s work and the international issues that affect it.

Please submit your question by October 18 ►Selected answers will be broadcast online, through the Carter Center’s pages on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the Center’s own blog at

Thank you in advance for your inspiring ideas as we continue to pursue practical and cost-effective ways of bringing peace, health, and hope to the least fortunate on earth.


Jimmy Carter


President Jimmy Carter

Your Excellency,

I am so honored to have the opportunity to ask a question about U.S. foreign policy on Ethiopia. It is the minority regime of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that dominates the Ethiopian people by manipulating the funds it obtains from Western donors in the form of foreign aid.

President Barack Obama came to power by promising us hope and change. However, according to many major media outlets, foreign aid to the Ethiopian dictatorial regime increased to three billion U.S. Dollars during the Obama administration.

As a torture survivor, I know that the TPLF is one of the most repressive regimes in Africa. Therefore, where is the hope and change that President Barack Obama has promised us? Did he change his mind after he got to the White House?


Fayera N. Soboksa


Good News for Asylees in the United States

October 24, 2012 ( We have got the following information from human rights advocates and we believe that it would be very relevant and helpful for Oromo Asylees whose green cards were held by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

“Finally some significantly good news for asylees and refugees with adjustment applications on hold for perceived inadmissiblity under section 212(a)(3)(B) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA)

Dear colleagues,

I just heard from USCIS that Secretary Napolitano has signed a broad-based TRIG exemption for persons previously granted status whose applications for adjustment or other later benefits are on hold based on perceived terrorism-related inadmissibility. We do not yet have a copy of the announcement, which USCIS does not want to distribute until it is published in the Federal Register, but it appears to incorporate major aspects of the broad-based exemption we and other NGO’s had been urging for people previously granted asylum/refugee status. It is not going to cover all 4,500 of the cases currently on hold, as it is not going to cover people whose inadmissibility stems from association with armed groups that have engaged in violations USCIS sees as particularly egregious (use of child soldiers was cited as one example of such violations) or groups that represent real national security concerns for the U.S. (as evidenced for example by their listing on the Treasury Dept’s OFAC list). But USCIS estimates it will cover about 4,000 of the cases currently on hold. It will apply to material support, solicitation, and military-type training (but not, as I understand it, to combat). This does not mean that people on hold who are NOT covered by this exemption (including people who are applying currently for asylum or refugee protection, or are currently without lasting status and applying for adjustment or other benefits/relief) will never have their cases resolved—there is a recognition that DHS has a lot of work to do here, but this is a very substantial step and should facilitate future progress.

The Federal Register announcement should follow later this week and I will circulate it when I see it.

It applies to waive inadmissibility based on material support to, solicitation of funds/things of value/members for, or receipt of military-type training from or on behalf of, organizations that were “Tier III” groups (in DHS’s view) at the time of the applicant’s support to the group, with certain exceptions noted below. It does NOT cover anyone who actually fought (or engaged in other acts, other than “material support,” that fall within the INA’s broad view of “terrorist activity.”) It also does NOT cover people whose inadmissibility stems from connections to Tier III groups that DHS sees as particularly problematic. The full range of bad acts that will lead to this assessment is noted in the Federal Register notice, and includes (1) any group that, while a Tier III group at the time of the applicant’s connection to it, was AT ANY TIME listed/designated as a Tier I or Tier II group; (2) any group that has AT ANY TIME targeted U.S. interests or persons, or engaged in any of a number of very serious violations of human rights or international humanitarian law, including a pattern or practice of torture, genocide, or the use of child soldiers, all this as defined by relevant provisions of federal law.

Without in any way minimizing the seriousness of those violations by armed groups, I would note that there are currently on hold with USCIS a good number of applications for adjustment or I-730’s by asylees and refugees who had minimal or non-criminal connections to groups that at some point in their history engaged in some of these practices–the use of child soldiers in particular. DHS is also well aware of this problem, and in fact group-specific exemption proposals relating to a number of such groups are currently pending either with the Interagency Policy Committee that needs to sign off on such things, or have passed the Interagency Policy Committee (from DHS, DOS, and DOJ) and are currently awaiting Secretary Napolitano’s review.

Also, and very importantly, this exemption has no effect on people currently applying for asylum or refugee status for the first time, or on anyone who is currently in removal proceedings. These applicants are often facing critical situations and their fate if obviously of prime importance to all of us.

It will be important to keep the pressure on DHS in the coming weeks to ensure that they continue to move forward toward exemptions and other solutions for those categories of persons not covered by this exemption announcement.

Adjudication of cases covered by this exemption, meanwhile, should begin as soon as implementation memos are cleared by DHS HQ and sent out to the field.”

We advise you to contact’s Human Rights Department before contacting your lawyers to process your cases.

–Fayera N. Soboksa