Examine a key aspect of refugee designation


As part of our efforts to amplify AILA Law Reviewauthor Betsy Fisher shares a little about her article in the new issue AILA Law Journal Fall 2023 Edition titled “A Fast Track to Refuge or a Path to Nowhere? in which she discusses the priority 2 humanitarian program in refugee resettlement and the disappointing results she has seen. Members of AILA, read editor-in-chief Cyrus Mehta’s preview here then access your free digital copy of the Law Journal to know more !

My career as an immigration attorney has focused on representing refugees and displaced persons outside the United States and advocating for the expansion and improvement of humanitarian immigration programs Americans. My recent article published in the AILA Law Review reflects on the disappointing results I have often seen in one type of humanitarian program: priority 2 (or P-2) refugee resettlement, and seeks to identify ways to get the most out of P-2 resettlement.

When a new crisis arises or a particular group of people faces mass displacement, advocates call (understandably and rightly) for members of that group to benefit from various forms of humanitarian immigration assistance. . A common call is for a group of persecuted people to be designated as a P-2 group under the US refugee resettlement program (note that this is distinct from an employment-based P-2 visa for non- immigrant). This designation allows members of the designated group to be considered for refugee resettlement, although they must complete processing steps and meet eligibility requirements to actually settle in the United States.

Proponents of P-2 designations operate on the theory that a P-2 designation can circumvent the requirements for individual references, which most often come from UNHCR. So, in theory, P-2 designations can provide a fast-track for group members facing urgent threats. On some occasions, the promotion of a P-2 designation shows a lack of understanding of the limited role a designation provides, which is understandable given the complexity of the refugee resettlement process in the United States. The article explores previous P-2 programs to identify situations in which P-2s will most benefit people facing humanitarian crises.

Often, people facing conflict or persecution are unable, because of that conflict or persecution, to access the resettlement process in the United States. Refugee resettlement involves many steps, some of which require U.S. government personnel or contractors to be on the ground in the country where the refugee currently lives. The U.S. Government frequently faces restrictions from host governments or due to concerns about the security of U.S. Government personnel that limit processing. And there are often other steps the State Department can take to better facilitate a group’s access to refugee resettlement consideration. These include enabling NGOs to refer individuals for resettlement and coordinating efforts to enable UNHCR to make shorter resettlement referrals for faster processing.

Despite this, there are situations in which P-2 groups can benefit refugee populations. This article seeks to clarify the benefits of a P-2 designation and identify situations in which these benefits are most likely to facilitate the resettlement of individuals facing persecution to safely resettle in the United States.

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