State Letter #03-21
Presidential Determination No. 2004-06
TO: STATE REFUGEE COORDINATORS
NATIONAL VOLUNTARY AGENCIES
OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES
FROM: Nguyen Van Hanh, Ph.D.
Office of Refugee Resettlement
SUBJECT: Presidential Determination No. 2004-06
On October 21, 2004, the President signed the FY 2004 Presidential Determination (PD) establishing the FY 2004 Admissions Numbers and Authorizations of In-Country Refugee Status for this fiscal year.
FY 2004 Admissions Numbers
The FY 2004 PD established a ceiling of up to 70,000 refugee admissions to the United States with an unallocated reserve of 20,000. This reserve “…shall be allocated to regional ceilings as needed.” Upon providing notification to the Judiciary Committees of Congress, the Secretary of State is “…authorized to use unallocated numbers in regions where the need for additional numbers arises.” Regional allocations for FY 2004 are as follows:
East Asia: 6,500
Europe and Central Asia: 13,000
Latin America/Caribbean: 3,500
Near East/South Asia: 2,000
Unallocated reserve: 20,000
Comparison to Previous Years
The Presidential Determination (PD) for FY 2003, which was signed by the President on October 16, 2002, allowed for 50,000 refugee admissions in six regions: Africa, 20,000; East Asia, 4,000; Eastern Europe, 2,500, Former Soviet Union, 14,000; Latin America/Caribbean, 2,500; and Near East/South Asia, 7,000. The FY 2003 PD also allowed for an unallocated reserve of 20,000, which was to be allocated as needed to regional ceilings where shortfalls developed.
The FY 2004 total number of 50,000 refugee regional admissions remains the same as in FY 2003. The unallocated reserve remains the same as in FY 2003. However, the number of geographic regions and the distribution of allocations within geographic regions have changed from the FY 2003 PD.
FY 2004 regional allocations for Africa have increased by 5,000 to a total of 25,000. FY 2004 regional allocations for East Asia have increased by 2,500 to a total of 6,500. FY 2003 geographic regions for Eastern Europe (2,500) and the Former Soviet Union (14,000) have been combined in FY 2004 into a region for Europe and Central Asia with a regional allocation of 13,000. This FY 2004 regional allocation represents a decrease from 16,500 in FY 2003 to 13,000 in FY 2004. The FY 2004 regional allocations for Latin America/Caribbean have increased by 1,000 for a total of 3,500. Regional allocations for the Near East/South Asia have decreased from FY 2003 by 5,000 for a total of 2,000 in FY 2004.
The Presidential Determination (PD) for FY2002, which was signed by the President on November 21, 2001, allowed for the admission of 70,000 refugees and allocated those numbers to six regions: Africa 22,000; East Asia 4,000; Eastern Europe 9,000; Former Soviet Union 17,000; Latin America/Caribbean 3,000; and Near East/South Asia 15,000. The Report to Congress for FY 2002, which was submitted on behalf of the President by the Departments of State, Justice and Health and Human Services in August 2001, noted that "[o]ur target is that the program will operate at the level of 90,000 admissions, and we will seek to expand the program to that level, growing roughly in increments of 5,000 over each of the next four years . . . " Prior to the September 11th attacks, the Administration's intention had been to expand the refugee program. However, the U.S. government, operating with new overseas security procedures after September 11th, admitted approximately 27,070 refugees in FY 2002.
The FY 2004 PD states "An additional 10,000 refugee admissions numbers shall be made available during FY 2004 for the adjustment to permanent resident status under section 209(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1159(b)) of aliens who have been granted asylum in the United States under section 208 of the Act (8 U.S.C. 1158). . . " This language regularly appears in the Presidential Determinations on refugee admissions and does not represent a change. It does not affect the actual refugee admissions ceiling or actual arrival numbers. It merely allows 10,000 asylees each year to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident (LPR).
However, because only 10,000 asylees are allowed to apply for adjustment of status each year, asylees generally must wait up to nine years from the date of filing for adjustment before their application is processed. The backlog continues to increase because approximately 30,000 individuals are granted asylum each year but only 10,000 are allowed to adjust, thus creating a large backlog of people waiting to change their status. This backlog will continue as long as the number of asylee adjustments is limited.
Consistent with language in FY 2002 and FY 2003, the FY 2004 PD allows in-country processing for persons from Vietnam, Cuba, and the Former Soviet Union, who, if otherwise qualified, may “…be considered refugees for the purpose of admission to the United States within their countries of nationality or habitual residence…"