New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Deportation To Russia: Is Biden Administration Quietly Sending Fleeing Asylum Seekers Back Home To Russia?

Author: US Asylum Lawyer Alena Shautsova

It has been over a year since the war between Russia and Ukraine began. With thousands of casualties reported on both sides, one is left to wonder when the war will cease and peace be restored. As the world hopes for a lasting truce to be reached between both countries, nations are doing their best to help manage casualties. In light of the aforementioned, the United States announced as of March 2022 to cease deportation to Russia due to the current political situation. However in a drastic turn of events, the Biden administration has resumed deportation of fleeing Russians back home and more so, quietly as reported by the Guardian.

While the Biden administration has yet to give a clear disposition on its new stance,- after about a year of giving hope to fleeing refugees- the quiet removal of escapees continues. Many of these persons fled Russia for the fear of being forcefully conscripted to fight against Ukraine. They came to the U.S. with hopes of finding the safety and the arms of the United States government were initially opened to receive them until recently. But what is really going on here? Is it the case that the US turns down all Russians? Far from being so.

The US Immigration laws are complex, not everyone who would like to escape the Moloch of the war would qualify for a protection. Asylum is reserved for those who can demonstrate that the experienced past persecution or will experience future persecution on account of protected ground only. But those protected grounds are limited to: race, nationality, membership in a particular social group, religious beliefs, and political views. If an asylum seeker cannot articulate why he/she should be given asylum within the frame of the US Asylum laws, they lose their case. You also need to add here different procedures that can be invoked against an asylum seekers at the US border: from parole to expedited removal, which are left to the discretion of the border officers. Depending on how “lucky” you are: you may be let into the US at the border or paroled for the purposes of seeking asylum, and this way you will not be detained and can hire a lawyer to help you. Or you can be placed in expedited removal proceedings, and detained through the time you prove you have a shot at your asylum case. However, if you cannot convince an asylum officer and a judge that you may win your asylum (you cannot pass what is called credible fear interview), you will be ordered deported.

And here were it gets very tricky: with a good advocacy, one can explain that they unwillingness to succumb to conscription constitutes certain political opinion for which they were or will be persecuted if returned back to their home country. But if one is not articulate enough, cannot demonstrate logical connection between their views, actions, and possible punishment, does not have access to country condition materials proving their point, they will be denied a chance to fight for their future in the US.

I have stated it previously, and I will repeat it here again: asylum process can be very subjective. It means it depends on luck to some degree, especially if one’s claim can be interpreted from different points of view, and such interpretation depends on the objectiveness and preparation of the tribunal: a judge or asylum officer.

In my opinion, all that happened in connection with the deportations of Russian nationals is that the temporary hold to remove nationals of certain countries (not only Russian citizens, but also citizens of Belarus, Georgia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) was lifted without official warning. It does not mean that the laws changed: it has been always difficult to win one’s asylum case in the US. It does not mean that the US started turning back Russian asylum seekers. It only means that the pause in physical deportations is lifted. It also servers as a warning to be mindful of the seriousness of asylum process and the need for good preparation, as mistakes during asylum process are unforgiving.

If you chose to work on your asylum case by yourself, here is a number of useful links that may help you:

If you need help with an asylum case: call our office to reserve a confidential consultation at 917 885 2261.

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26 March 2023
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