UNHCR released 2020 report showing an increase in global displacement
On Friday the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, released their annual Global Trends report showing an increase in the number of displaced people as of December 2020. There was a 4% increase in the number of displaced people worldwide -- now at 82.4 million. The number of refugees increased from 26 to 26.4 million, and the number of internally displaced people increased from 45.7 to 48 million. Forty-two percent of displaced people in the world are children, and the UNHCR estimates that almost 1 million children were born into displacement between 2018 and 2020.
One percent of the global population is now considered displaced, and the number has doubled since 2011. More than ⅔ of refugees came from just 5 countries: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar. The countries hosting the most refugees are Turkey, Colombia, Pakistan, Uganda, and Germany. In 2020 34,400 refugees were admitted to a new country through resettlement and approximately 251,000 (approximately 1%) were able to return home.
You can see the Figures at a Glance on the UNHCR website.
Biden Administration expanded the Central American Minors Program
The Central American Minors program was created under President Obama as a way for parents with legal immigration status to petition to bring their children to the U.S. legally from Central America. Asylum cannot be requested from outside the country, so this program creates an exception that allows these parents to seek protection for their children through legal channels rather than taking the risky journey to the border to request asylum. The program was suspended under President Trump, but President Biden reinstated it in March 2021.
The initial phase was only open to those whose cases had been pending when the program was shut down in 2017. This week the Biden administration expanded the program to accept more cases. In addition to allowing parents who already have legal status to petition for their children, the program will now allow parents with pending cases for asylum or U visas to apply, as well as expanding eligibility to legal guardians. This change could potentially allow tens of thousands of parents to bring their children to the United States legally.
AG Merrick Garland reversed rulings that limited asylum for those fleeing domestic or gang violence
The attorney general reversed rulings made under the Trump administration that made it increasingly difficult for people to qualify for asylum due to domestic or gang violence. The two cases were the Matter of A-B, which involved an asylum case for a woman suffering severe domestic abuse, and the Matter of L-E-A, which involved a case for a man who was fleeing targeted attacks from the drug cartels. The decisions on these cases made by former attorney generals Jeff Sessions and William Barr ruled that the applicants did not qualify for asylum because they did not meet the definition of a “particular social group, ” and they overruled the decisions made by immigration judges to grant asylum.
This reversal by Attorney General Garland instructs immigration judges to revert to precedent, allowing people to apply for asylum not just when being persecuted by their government, but also when the government fails to protect them when they are persecuted by other parties.