Immigration advocates were surprised when a young Russian man who arrived in the US on the run from Vladimir Putin leading a mobilization of citizens to fight in Ukraine was unexpectedly deported from the US back to Russia over the weekend, The Guardian writes.
He was one of several Russian asylum seekers, many of whom made it to the United States last year, and now fear the US government will return them to Russia, to prison or to the front lines where there are already tens of thousands of victims.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is carrying out deportations to countries including Russia “in accordance with guidelines”, a federal agency told the newspaper when asked about the resumption of deportations to Russia. “The White House did not respond to our request for comment,” added The Guardian.
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Jennifer Scarborough, a Texas attorney whose clients include four Russians who entered the US across the Mexican border and sought asylum, is one of those struggling with this political turmoil. “These men were claiming asylum because they feared being drafted into the army,” she said.
Scarborough added that Ice officers had informed her that one of her clients had been deported over the weekend, and she explained that his legal and residency status meant there was no doubt he had been sent back to Russia. The other two are threatened with deportation.
“I don’t know what will become of him,” said Scarborough. “Russia is incredibly vocal about its feelings towards the opposition. The very fact that they have fled Russia for the United States puts them at risk, she added.
In their case, immigration officials ruled that the fear of conscription did not meet the criteria of “credible fear” and there was no basis for granting them asylum. “Each of them appealed to the immigration judge, who agreed with the officials,” Scarborough said.
– If we are against this war, then why do we say that Russia has the right to carry out this conscription and deport people to fight in Ukraine? I don’t understand how you can juxtapose these two policies side by side.