Sunday, August 21, 2005

Paripovic: last habitual residence can be refugee camp where practically stuck

Filed 08/12/05, No. 03-4193
Paripovic v. Atty Gen USA
(Paripovic v. Gonzales)
(precedential decision)

Asylum law focuses on whether a person has a well-founded fear of persecution that is rooted on one of several protected grounds that prevents him from returning to his home country. An interesting question is how to deal with people who are stateless, not a citizen of any country.

The law requires immigration judges to focus on the country where the person "last habitually resided." In this case, the Third Circuit focused on determining where someone who fled what used to be Yugoslavia last habitually resided.

In this case, the immigrant made a strong case that as a Croatian living in Serbia, he had a well-founded fear that he would be tortured or killed by people wishing to drive Croatians out of Serbia. If he had directly fled to the US, it would have been clear that he last habitually resided in Croatia.

However, he fled to a refugee camp in Serbia, where he was not physically detained but considering he had no place to go, he had no choice other than to stay there. After around two years in the refugee camp, he fled to the United States.

If the immigrant could prove that his time in Serbia was not where he last habitually resided, he would probably win his asylum claim.

The Third Circuit, however, ruled that the key question for where someone last habitually resided is the length of time the person resided in a location, regardless of the person's intent (or whether the person was forced into a location and only stayed there due to having no other choice).

Therefore, the Third Circuit ruled that the two years in Serbia made the last habitually residence Serbia and the immigrant did not qualify for asylum because he did not have a well-founded fear of persecution in Serbia.

There is some language that suggests the Third Circuit's decision might have been different if someone is physically detained or imprisoned (as opposed to being held in a camp and being free to go, but having no practical options other than to keep living in the camp).


Post a Comment

<< Home