Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Frannie S. Mok


The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) possesses a wide range of discretionary powers in determining whether to grant political asylum to aliens that enter the United States. One of the factors used in exercising discretion is determining whether an alien has been "firmly resettled" in a third country before applying for asylum in the United States. This Note focuses on the problems with using "firm resettlement" as a discretionary device in denying asylum to Chinese aliens who temporarily stayed in Hong Kong before arriving in the United States. The Note argues that current immigration laws that permit INS officials to consider an alien's stay in a third country as a factor in granting asylum fail to account for the unique "triangular" political situation that exists. In 1997 the sovereignty of Hong Kong will revert back to China. However, current U.S. immigration laws permit the deportation of Chinese aliens who were denied asylum in Hong Kong. The Note concludes that the deportation of Chinese aliens back to Hong Kong renders the aliens stateless and violates United Nations standards. The Note proposes to modify the use of firm resettlement to establish uniformity in its application and to account for the plight of Chinese-Hong Kong aliens.