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Over 1,300 Caribbean Nationals Granted Asylum Status In 2008

CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. July 10, 2009: Some 1,342 Caribbean nationals were granted asylum status in the U.S. last year, according to a CWNN analysis of recent data released by the Department of Homeland Security.

Nationals of only three Caribbean nations were approved for asylum status compared to only one for refugee status. Haiti led the region with 1,237 or 5.4 percent of the global total of asylees in 2008.

Jamaica had 19 approvals for asylum.

By contrast, Cuba`s asylum approvals were much lower with 86 approved in 2008. However, 4,177 Cubans, the highest in a decade, were granted refugee status last year compared to no Haitians. That number grew from just 2,922 in 2007 and from 3,143 in 2006.

An applicant for refugee status is outside the United States, while an applicant seeking asylum status is in the U.S. or at a U.S. port of entry.

To be eligible for refugee or asylum status, an applicant must be unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

In 2008, a total of 60,108 persons were admitted to the United States as refugees. During 2008, 22,930 individuals were granted asylum, including 12,187 who were granted asylum affirmatively by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and 10,743 who were granted asylum defensively by an immigration judge during removal proceedings.

The top countries of nationality for affirmative asylees were China (17 percent), Colombia (9.1 percent), and Venezuela (6.3 percent).

These three countries accounted for the nationality of 32 percent of all persons granted asylum affirmatively.

Globally, the majority of refugees (52 percent) admitted to the United States in 2008 were under 25 years of age, with 36 percent under age 18. A slight majority of refugees were male (52 percent). More than half of all refugees admitted in 2008 (57 percent) were single; 38 percent were married.

In 2008, the leading countries of nationality for refugee admissions were Burma (30 percent), Iraq (23 percent), and Bhutan (8.9 percent).  The largest percentages of refugees admitted to the United States in 2008 settled in California (16 percent) and Texas (8.5 percent).

Of the 12,187 persons granted asylum affirmatively in 2008, more than four-fifths were between the ages of 18 and 54 while slightly more than half were male, and 48 percent were married. Leading states of residence for individuals granted asylum affirmatively were California (34 percent) and Florida (20 percent).