Refugee into Olympian – MEB

Meb Keflghizi is perhaps the greatest American distance runner. He is preparing to compete in the Men’s Marathon on Sunday August 21, one of the final events of the 31st Olympiad. The marathon is a grueling event, requiring 26.2 miles of endurance, speed, tactics, and mental fortitude. The winning time is expected to be around the 2:10 mark, which means an average mile of below 5 minutes. But Meb, as he is known, is remarkable for another reason. He is a naturalized US citizen, competing under the US flag, as a native born Eritrean. His reason for immigrating to the United States – we accepted him and his family as refugees. From child refugee, Meb has become one of the most decorated runners in American history, and will be looking to add an Olympic Gold Medal in the marathon to his formidable litany of accomplishments.

Meb’s Journey to the U.S.

Eritrea is a small east African nation that suffered a 30 year civil war with Ethiopia, with which it was a part of when Ethiopia became a sovereign nation. Eritrea finally gained its independence, but in the years of civil war, life was dangerous for many Eritreans. Meb’s father was a liberation supporter. With civil war raging, Meb’s family had to escape. They temporarily escaped to refugee camps in Italy. Italy was a colonial conqueror of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

In Italy, Meb’s family was accepted as refugees to the United States. They settled in San Diego when Meb was 12 years old. In high school, Meb realized that he had world class speed, and he attended UCLA on a scholarship for track and field. He became a naturalized US citizen in 1998 in Los Angeles. Fittingly, it was at the Los Angeles Marathon on February 13, 2016 that Meb qualified for the Olympics Marathon.

One of Meb’s great American moments was winning the Boston Marathon in 2014. The Boston Marathon is the most prestigious long distance event, drawing the best distance runners in the world to compete against each other. His victory was momentous for many reasons, chief among them being that American men do not often win the event and because it was the year after the terrorist bombing at the finish line. Meb ran the race in American flag colors and soared to his personal best time of 2:08:37.

A Small Part of the American Immigration System

The United States accepts thousands of refugees and asylum seekers each year. It is a pathway to permanent residence and citizenship, as well. Meb is a great example of American Olympic spirit, but also of the American immigration system. The immigration system has 4 basic pathways to entry: family, employment, humanitarian, and lottery. The humanitarian aspect can often be lost in the shuffle. On Sunday, it will be on full display when Meb runs 26.2 miles for the United States and aims to capture an Olympic Gold Medal. Both for his athletic prowess and his incredible story of perseverance, Meb is an inspiration for Americans.

Immigration Court Cases

Half a Million Cases and Counting

It is being reported that there are over half a million pending cases in the federal immigration courts. The number has grown by over 200,000 over the past five years, which is attributed to the increase in unaccompanied minors crossing the border. CBS DFW writes:

Cases of newly arrived immigrants facing deportation have been made a priority, but the backlog still means that many immigrants are likely to face years long delays before a judge makes a final decision on their cases. And while people are waiting to go before a judge, their case could dramatically change, for good or bad.

A spokesperson for the courts reported that there have been 34 immigration judges hired since the beginning of the year and that there are plans to hire an additional 100 judges. A pending budget proposal would allow for a total of 399 immigration court judges.

VIBE – Business Immigration


Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises.

USCIS uses VIBE to verify its information for employer-based petitions. Businesses are required to provide some information about their operations in immigration petitions, such as number of employees, net income, and location. VIBE verifies that information for USCIS and the adjudicator looking at the petition. An adjudicator cannot deny a petition for a discrepancy that VIBE detects. Instead, he or she is supposed to send a Request for Evidence so that information can be verified. USCIS stresses that only public information is available for VIBE.

A company does not have to update its information in a database. However, it may verify and correct information by contacting Dun and Bradstreet, which is the independent information provider for VIBE.

Amazing Immigration Graphics

Amazing Immigration Graphics: Immigration to the United States 1820-1913

Immigration in the United States can be broken into historical periods. The country was founded upon immigration from Western European countries. Mid 19th century immigration included Southern and Eastern Europeans and some Asian countries. Early in the 20th century, on the strength of the eugenics movements, restrictions were placed on African immigration and Asian immigration was banned.

Here is a link containing an amazing video of the source of immigration to the United States from 1820-1913. There are also two graphs with bright colors to demonstrate the flow and percentage by country.

“Max Galka of the Metrocosm blog took all the data from 1820 to 2013 and created this animated graphic, using different colors for each country as well as brightness to illustrate the total migration at any given time. The brighter the color, the more immigrants.”

Refugee and Asylum Statistics

Refugee and Asylum Report for 2014

The Office of Immigration Statistics for the Department of Homeland Security released information on the Refugee and Asylum programs for 2014. Here are some highlights:

  • 69,975 people were admitted as refugees. Iraq, Burma, Somalia, and Bhutan were the leading countries of nationality. 74% of all refugees came from those four countries. The refugee cap was 70,000 for the year.
  • 23,533 people were granted asylum. DHS granted asylum to 14,758 of them. The Executive Office for Immigration Review granted asylum to the remaining 8,775 people.
  • 55% of admitted refugees live in ten states. Texas, California, New York, Michigan, Florida, Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Illinois are the states in order of highest number of arriving refugees.
  • China, Egypt, Syria, and Ethiopia had the most granted asylum cases. China accounted for over a third of all asylum grants. Mexico was number 7, Haiti was number 9, Guatemala was number 10.
  • 47% of those individuals granted asylum in 2014 reside in California.