HIAS Applauds New Guidelines on Protecting Stateless Individuals in U.S.

Silver Spring, MD — HIAS applauds the announcement by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the guidelines they issued earlier this week to better protect stateless individuals in the United States. The announcement, which fulfills a commitment made by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in 2021, adopts the international definition of statelessness and offers guidelines to identify and protect individuals who are not legally considered a citizen of any country. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that there are approximately 218,000 stateless people residing in the United States. 

Stateless individuals — who are either born stateless or become stateless through discrimination, war and conflict, or changing borders and laws — have historically struggled to access important services related to legal immigration status like employment, education, and housing. They are also vulnerable to family separation and detention. The guidelines issued this week by DHS create new procedures to assist United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers in assessing whether an individual is stateless and update outdated processes and standard operating procedures. Such measures will help stateless individuals more easily obtain identification, work authorization, and other benefits 

HIAS commends the Department of Homeland Security for fulfilling the commitment it made in 2021 to begin to address the issue of statelessness. HIAS believes the guidelines issued this week will pave the way to implementing further policies or passing legislation to provide all stateless people in the United States with a pathway to citizenship, allowing them to live a life free of legal limbo.