Law Offices ofJan Joseph Bejar A P.L.C.
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Obama administration eases restrictions for those seeking asylum

A recent modification by the Obama administration is lessening the restrictions faced by many immigrants looking to relocate to California or other areas of the country. The change affects people seeking asylum that may have unintentionally supported terrorists or their organizations. It redefines the definition of "material support" and how it is applied to asylum applications.

New exemptions are outlined in the adapted policy. If a person has no concrete ties to an established terrorist organization but inadvertently offers it support of some type, that person is no longer automatically precluded from receiving asylum. The exemption applies if the action that aids the terrorist is done incidentally as part of a standard business transaction. It also covers actions done under great duress.

Before the change, immigrants seeking asylum could be turned down based on actions that did not present a threat to the United States. One example of this includes a farmer who paid a fee to access a bridge that led to the market where he sold his wares. Another is a refugee who paid to gain safe passage from his home country.

Laws passed immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks were broadly written and applied unevenly, according to proponents of the changes. They claim those rules unfairly kept many people from entering the United States. They say the new exemptions are a step toward making America a welcoming sanctuary again.

Just under one-fourth of the 44,000 people who applied for asylum in 2012 were approved for entry into the country under that condition. The new rules, applicable in California and the rest of the nation, could swell that number greatly as more people meet the guidelines. For the people looking to escape oppression in their home country, an understanding of immigration regulations and how they are enforced could be an invaluable resource.

Source: Los Angeles Times, Obama administration will ease rules for refugees, asylum seekers, Christi Parsons, Feb. 5, 2014

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