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Stateless in Detention

How many stateless people in the U.S. are currently in detention with no country to deport them to?​

Project Description

The life of any stateless person in limbo status is built around fear of detention. All stateless persons in limbo in this country are at risk of detention, currently detained or released from detention under an order of supervision. Since there is no statelessness determination procedure and, therefore, no protection for stateless individuals created by the U.S. government, there are no clear statistics that show the number of stateless persons in the U.S. detention system. 

Purpose of Project

Stateless in Detention Project is geared towards identifying stateless detainees in the U.S. detention centers. We aim to connect legal clinics with stateless detainees, and where possible provide assistance to the stateless individuals currently detained in the U.S.

Working with both UNHCR's Detention Hotline and Detention Watch Network, we have connected with over 30 detainees through our PenPal Program. We launched our first Stateless in Detention training in 2019, Supporting Stateless People in Immigration Detention. This provided those who already work in immigration detention space knowledge and skills to identify and support stateless people.

Stateless detainees require special attention because in many situations they become detained through no fault of their own. Since there is no country in the world that recognizes them as its nationals, they can not travel out of country to find a safe haven. At the same time it is impossible for stateless people to obtain / maintain a legal immigration status in the US solely based on their statelessness. A combination of these factors often leads to prolonged and unjustified detention.

For additional information, read the UNHCR: Stateless Persons in Detention report.

Across the world, stateless persons face violations of their right to liberty and security. In some instances they have been in detention for years, not because they have committed a crime, but solely because they are not allowed to stay in the country and have nowhere else to go... It is essential that States prevent and end this serious human rights violation.
Filippo Grandi, Former UN High Commissioner for Refugees
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