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  • Blogging: CIS Uses Boston Attack to Condemn Asylum, Immigration System by Jason Dzubow

    Bloggings on Political Asylum

    by Jason Dzubow

    CIS Uses Boston Attack to Condemn Asylum, Immigration System

    The “low immigration, pro-immigrant” group Center for Immigration Studies claims that the “United States has naturalized at least a few thousand alleged terrorists in recent years.” As evidence for this dramatic claim, CIS lists exactly four (four!) examples of naturalized foreigners who engaged (or attempted to engage) in terrorist acts, including Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who is charged in the Boston Marathon bombing.

    Hmm... There's something strange about this naturalization ceremony.

    Hmm… There’s something strange about this Naturalization ceremony.

    How CIS got from four alleged terrorists to “thousands” is not explained. Although I often disagree with CIS’s conclusions, I’ve found them to be generally reliable when it comes to the facts. Not so in this case. To make such an outrageous and inflammatory claim with almost no evidence casts doubt on the organization’s credibility.

    Concerned about the possibility of major immigration reform, is CIS becoming unhinged? Will they–like so many partisan groups–make all sorts of unsubstantiated claims in the hope of getting their way (i.e., killing immigration reform)?

    It seems that in many of our country’s policy debates, the end justifies the means. “Swiftboating” has replaced reasoned debate. I hope that CIS won’t go down this road. Like I say, I often disagree with CIS, but I recognize the need for different voices in the conversation. For those voices to make a positive impact, however, they must be grounded in reality. CIS should correct their unfounded claim that the U.S. has “naturalized at least a few thousand alleged terrorists,” and issue an apology.

    With that as background, I want to turn briefly to CIS’s testimony on Capitol Hill. This past Monday, Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of CIS testified about the proposed immigration reform before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He spoke about the Tsarnaev family who–he said–immigrated to the United States a decade ago after receiving political asylum. Mr. Krikorian asked:

    Why were they given asylum since they had passports from Kyrgyzstan and, especially, why were they given asylum since the parents have moved back to Russia, the country supposedly they were fleeing and wanted asylum from?

    A few points. Maybe this is an immigration-lawyer-geek point, but by definition, no one immigrates to the U.S. after receiving political asylum. It is only possible to obtain political asylum if you are already present in the United States. In the case of the Tsarnaev family, events are a bit unclear. It appears that the father came as a non-immigrant to the United States in 2002 with Dzhokhar, and then applied for–and received–political asylum. Afterward, he brought his wife and minor children (including alleged bomber Tamerlan) to the United States. Maybe this is a geek point, but if I were from an immigration organization testifying before Congress, I would want to get the law and terminology correct.

    Second, I do not know how Mr. Krikorian knows that the Tsarnaev family had passports from Kyrgyzstan. As far as I know, the family were Russian citizens, and the father was originally from Chechnya, which is part of Russia. While it appears that at least the younger brother was born in Kyrgyzstan, this does not necessarily mean that he had a Kyrgz passport or was a citizen of that country (unlike the U.S., many countries do not automatically confer citizenship on people born within their territory). Assuming that the father had Kyrgz citizenship, he would not have qualified for asylum unless he demonstrated that he had a well-founded fear of persecution in Kyrgyzstan or that he was not firmly resettled in that country. As of now, we do not know why the father received asylum from Russia, let alone from Kyrgyzstan. Suffice it to say that the human rights situation in Kyrgyzstan is no picnic, and that country has produced several hundred thousand refugees. While Mr. Krikorian’s question (why was the family given asylum if they had passports from Kyrgyzstan?) is reasonable, the implied answer (that the family should not have received asylum) is pure speculation.

    Finally, Mr. Krikorian asks why the family received asylum since the parents have moved back to Russia, the country supposedly they were fleeing. Again, the implication is that the family should not have received asylum. Mr. Krikorian does not answer his own question, and indeed, we do not know why the father returned to Russia. Maybe he felt that conditions had improved and it would be safe for him to return. Maybe the father was more concerned with his children’s safety than his own, and so once his children were safely in the U.S., he decided to return. Or maybe–as Mr. Krikorian implies–the asylum case was fraudulent from the beginning. At this point, we don’t know. And while I agree that we need to explore all aspects of the brothers’ history, I am not sure that the investigation is well served by cynical assumptions that the father’s asylum claim was false.

    As I have said, I often disagree with CIS, but I believe they (and other restrictionist groups) have an important role to play in the current discussion about immigration and asylum reform. I just believe that the debate–and the credibility of CIS–would be better served if the organization speculated a little less, and got the facts right a little more.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.


    About The Author

    Jason Dzubow's practice focuses on immigration law, asylum, and appellate litigation. Mr. Dzubow is admitted to practice law in the federal and state courts of Washington, DC and Maryland, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fourth, Eleventh, and DC Circuits, all Immigration Courts in the United States, and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Capital Area Immigrant Rights (CAIR) Coalition. In June 2009, CAIR Coalition honored Mr. Dzubow for his Outstanding Commitment to Defending the Rights and Dignity of Detained Immigrants.In December 2011, Washingtonian magazine recognized Dr. Dzubow as one of the best immigration lawyers in the Washington, DC area; in March 2011, he was listed as one of the top 25 legal minds in the country in the area of immigration law. Mr. Dzubow is also an adjunct professor of law at George Mason University in Virginia.


    The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) alone and should not be imputed to ILW.COM.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. federale86's Avatar
      federale86 -
      Actually, Kirkorian is correct. The father and son entered the U.S. and applied for asylum. It was granted and the rest of the family most likely entered based on their being named on the father's asylum application. Once that is approved those on the application, spouse and children get approved for derivative asylum status. They don't get refugee status, they don't get an immigrant or non-immigrant visa. They enter based on the approved application for the primary applicant.
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