Help for the Stateless?

by Jason Dzubow on June 23, 2010

in Asylum Seekers, Human Rights

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According to a recent report, about 4,000 people known to be stateless are living in the United States.  Probably, many more are living here under the radar.  Refugees International reports that there are over 12 million stateless people world-wide: “Statelessness results from factors such as political change, border demarcation or secession, forced expulsion, discrimination, nationality based solely on descent, and laws regulating marriage and birth registration.”  Stateless people have “limited access to health care and education; prospects for employment are poor, leading to generations of poverty; and their right to freedom of movement is routinely violated. Stateless people face social exclusion, harassment, and violence.”

Current U.S. law does not provide stateless people with any legal status.  Unable to return to their former countries, stateless individuals living in the United States risk being detained and must apply annually for permission to work.  They also face travel restrictions and are often required to report regularly to immigration officials–a requirement that can last indefinitely. 

When the Dan Glickman of Refugees International testified before Congress last month, he gave the example of Tatianna, a stateless woman from the former Soviet Union:

Tatianna is a 61 year-old mother and grandmother, a piano teacher who has lived in the United States for over 20 years.  She was born in Russia during Soviet times and eventually moved to what is now Ukraine.  In 1992, after being persecuted by the authorities for her political beliefs, she came to the United States with the younger of two sons and applied for asylum.  Their case was denied in 1997.  Following its independence Ukraine passed a law requiring people to have resided in Ukraine for two years following independence to be eligible for citizenship. Tatianna had fled before having lived in Ukraine for two years and she is therefore not recognized as a Ukrainian citizen. Russia doesn’t recognize Tatianna as a citizen either because Russian nationality laws require individuals to have lived in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which Tatianna did not.

This means that the United States had nowhere to return Tatianna after denying her asylum claim. Tatiana and her son are stateless.  No country recognizes Tatianna as a citizen. She has no nationality, and there is no legal pathway for her to acquire citizenship in the U.S.  She lives in limbo and is unable to fully participate in society.  She has no travel documents and no means to acquire them.  She has been separated from some of her closest family members for decades.  And although she and her son have paid taxes in the United States since they arrived 20 years ago, she is not eligible for social security.  Tatianna must check in with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) every month by telephone and every six months in person.  She never knows what might happen when she goes to DHS and lives in fear that she could be arbitrarily jailed.

The proposed Refugee Protection Act addresses the problem of statelessness and provides a path for stateless residents of the U.S. to obtain their permanent residency and ultimately their citizenship.  Hopefully, support for the RPA will gain momentum and provide help to stateless people in the United States.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mikhail June 7, 2012 at 8:06 pm
"BENHALILEM" April 4, 2013 at 6:13 am

france
4 avril

We the Statelessness persons need rights than others
you Know the Gypsies peoples have the associations help them.

but us statelessness our rights as violated.

regard

Dragan Stojcevic February 19, 2014 at 10:35 am

Ladies and Gentlemen
Due to the creation of a new world order has been unavoidable immigration processes and events in the world so that one part of the people remained stateless. With this letter I want to give full support for your work, and also show great dissatisfaction with the work of some of the representatives of the European Union and others of like mind who oppose the work of the UN, and are not able to resolve the status of stateless people. Please on the agenda of one of the following session of the UN put and clearly define the (decision) the status of stateless people in the world (and the rights of the document) and take care of and responsibility for them to the final resolution of their status. Please note that I am stateless, without nationality, without religious and political unstated.
sincerely yours
international UN volunteer Dragan Stojcevic
Volunteers UN Number : 529861
address
Ul . Skender Kulenovic 6
78250 Laktaši
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Telephone number : 0038766934365
E – mail : draganstojcevic@yahoo.com
Skype name: draganstojcevic1

Bosnian
Poštovana dame i gospodo
Zbog stvaranja novog svjetskog poretka je došlo do neminovnih imigracionih procesa i dešavanja u svijetu tako da je jedan dio ljudi ostao bez državljanstva. Ovim pismom vam želim dati punu podršku za vaš rad, a ujedno ukazati veliko nezadovoljstvo na rad pojedinih predstavnika Evropske unije i njihovih istomišljenika koji se protive radu UN, a nisu u stanju da riješe status ljudi bez državljanstva. Molim vas da na dnevni red jedne od sledećih sjednica UN stavite i jasno odredite (odlukom) status ljudi bez državljanstva u cijelom svijetu (prava i dokumenta) i preuzmete brigu i odgovornost o njima do konačnog rješavanja njihovog statusa. Napominjem da sam ja bez državljanstva, bez nacionalnosti, bez religije i politički neopredjeljen.
Iskreno vaš
internacionalni UN volonter Dragan Stojcevic
Broj : 529861
adresa boravka
Ul. Skendera Kulenovića 6
78250 Laktaši
Bosna i Hercegovina
Telefonski broj: 0038766934365
E-mail: draganstojcevic@yahoo.com
Skype name: draganstojcevic1

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