A right to family? : family reunification for refugees in United States immigration law
This paper will evaluate the immigration laws in the United States relating to family reunifications for U.S. resettled refugees, answering the question of whether those laws are compliant with international human rights law. The legal obligations contained within the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) will receive the greatest focus throughout the paper‟s analysis, as the Covenant makes express mention of the rights of family and has been both signed and ratified by the United States. Over the duration of the last five years or so, considerable changes have been made to the admission policies for refugees seeking resettlement in the United States. National Security has once again moved to the forefront of the political agenda, and refugee families seeking to reunite with separated loved ones are paying the cost. In October of 2008, the United States suspended one of the two arms of the family reunification programs, commonly referred to as the P-3 Program, for security reasons. As a consequence of this, the already limited pool of individuals eligible for reunification was only further downsized. In mid-2011, the admissions program saw the implementation of additional security checks, which has amounted to significant processing delays for refugees seeking to be reunited with their relative in the United States, These matters are blurring the lines of compliance regarding the United States‟ obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of the refugee family at international law and warrant serious scrutiny. Ultimately, it will be revealed that reunifications of refugee families are reliant upon a U.S. immigration system that is too often unjust, inefficient, ineffective, and in need of urgent reform.