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Notice

Termination of Designation of Angola Under the Temporary Protected Status Program

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Immigration and Naturalization Service, Justice.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

The Attorney General's most recent designation of Angola under the Temporary Protected Status program (TPS) expires on March 29, 2003. After reviewing country conditions and consulting with the appropriate Government agencies, the Attorney General has determined that conditions in Angola no longer support a TPS designation. Accordingly, the designation of Angola for TPS is terminated effective March 29, 2003. After that date, aliens who are nationals of Angola (and aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in Angola) who have had TPS under the Angola program will no longer have such status. This notice contains information regarding the termination of the TPS designation for Angola.

DATES:

The termination of the TPS designation for Angola is effective March 29, 2003.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Naheed A. Qureshi, Office of Adjudications, Residence and Status Branch, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Room 3040, 425 I Street, NW., Washington, DC 20536, telephone (202) 514-4754.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

What Is the Statutory Authority for the Designation and Termination of TPS?

Under section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA or “the Act”), 8 U.S.C. 1254a, the Attorney General is authorized to designate a foreign state (or part of a state) for TPS. The Attorney General may then grant TPS to eligible nationals of that foreign state (or aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in that state). Section 244(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires the Attorney General to review, at least 60 days before the end of the TPS designation, the conditions in a foreign state designated under section 244(b)(1) of the Act. 8 U.S.C. 1254a(b)(3)(A).

Section 244(b)(3) of the Act further requires the Attorney General to determine whether the conditions for such a designation continue to be met, and to terminate the state's designation when the Attorney General determines conditions are no longer met. 8 U.S.C. 1254a(b)(3)(B). The Attorney General must then publish a notice of termination in the Federal Register.

Why Did the Attorney General Decide To Terminate TPS for Angola?

On March 29, 2000, the Attorney General published a notice in the Federal Register at 65 FR 16634 designating Angola for TPS for a period of one year, based upon conditions in Angola at that time. That TPS designation was extended twice and is scheduled to expire on March 29, 2003. See 66 FR 18111 (April 5, 2001 (extension and redesignation); 67 FR 4997 (Feb. 1, 2002) (extension). Based upon a recent review of conditions within Angola by the Departments of Justice and State, the Attorney General finds that conditions in Angola no longer support a TPS designation.

A recent Department of State report indicates that the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the Government of Angola were able to recommit to the Lusaka Peace Process following the February 2002 death of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. Department of State Report (Nov. 13, 2002). The Resource Information Center (RIC) of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS/Service) observed that “[t]he peace accords ended the 27-year battle between the UNITA forces and the Angolan ruling party.” RIC Report (Nov. 29, 2002). The peace agreement committed the parties to continued discussions regarding future elections and a power sharing approach to governance. Since the peace accord was signed, fighting has ceased and 84,000 UNITA combatants have been disarmed and decommissioned, effectively dismantling UNITA's military capability. Department of State Report. The United Nations estimates that approximately 5,000 of the demobilized soldiers have joined the Angolan government forces, while approximately 80,000 have reunited with their families in reception centers. RIC Report.

A separate insurgency led by the separatist guerrilla forces of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda/Armed Forces of Cabinda (FLEC/FAC) continues in the northern province of Cabinda, and the Angolan Armed Forces has increased its military campaign against rebels in this area. Given the geographic isolation of Cabinda from the rest of Angola, however, the Department of State concludes that conditions in that province do not impact Angolans elsewhere. Department of State Report.

The Department of State report notes that in addition to the humanitarian needs of 380,000 UNITA members and their families, the Government of Angola faces the challenge of assisting an estimated 4 million displaced Angolan nationals. The RIC Report expresses concern that Angola lacks housing, medical services, water systems, and other basic services destroyed by a 27-year-long war.

There are as many as 8 million landmines planted in Angolan soil. Department of State Report. At least 10 provinces, accounting for 40 percent of Angola's countryside, are heavily mined, rendering large areas of arable land and pasture unfit for use. RIC Report. Nevertheless, the Department of State concludes that the risks associated with existing landmines are not sufficient to potential returnees to warrant an extension of TPS.

Despite these challenging circumstances, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Start Printed Page 3897estimates that 70,000 refugees and 860,000 internally displaced persons have spontaneously returned to their home areas since February 2002. Department of State Report. In the spring of 2003, UNHCR intends to begin the organized repatriation of 470,000 refugees from Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia. Id. The Government of Angola continues to work with the international community to return 4 million internally displaced persons to their homes in Angola.

Based on these findings, the Attorney General has determined that conditions warranting TPS designation no longer exist, and that the TPS designation for Angola must be terminated. Section 244(b)(3)(B) of the Act provides that the Attorney General “shall” terminate a designation if he determines that Angola “no longer continues to meet the conditions for designation * * *” A statutory condition common to designations under paragraphs (A) and (C) of section 244(b)(1) of the Act is a threat to the personal safety of potential returnees. Whether the precipitating condition is an “ongoing armed conflict,” INA § 244(b)(1)(A), or other “extraordinary and temporary conditions,” INA § 244(b)(1)(C), this shared condition—threat to returnees' safety—must “continue to be met” or the Attorney General “shall” terminate the designation. INA §§ 244(b)(3)(A), (B). The disarmament, demobilization, and ongoing reintegration of ex-combatants, the formal end to war, and the discussions regarding planned elections are all positive developments and an indication that internal armed conflict no longer threatens returning Angolans. Furthermore, efforts by the United Nations and non-governmental organizations to resettle Angolan citizens signify the improvement of humanitarian and socioeconomic conditions in Angola. For the foregoing reasons, the Attorney General determines that Angolan TPS beneficiaries may return safely to Angola at this time and, therefore, terminates the TPS designation for Angola.

What May I Do if I Believe That My Return to Angola Is Unsafe?

This notice terminates the designation of Angola for TPS. There may be avenues of immigration relief and protection available to aliens who are nationals of Angola (and aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in Angola) in the United States who believe that their particular circumstances make return to Angola unsafe. Such avenues may include, but are not limited to, asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under Article 3 of the Torture Convention.

How Does the Termination of TPS Affect Former TPS Beneficiaries?

After the designation of Angola for TPS is terminated on March 29, 2003, former TPS beneficiaries will maintain the same immigration status they held prior to TPS (unless that status has since expired or been terminated) or any other status they may have acquired while registered for TPS. Accordingly, if an alien held no lawful immigration status prior to receiving TPS benefits and did not obtain any other status during the TPS period, he or she will maintain that unlawful status upon the termination of the TPS designation.

Former TPS beneficiaries will no longer be eligible for a stay of removal or a work authorization document pursuant to the TPS program. TPS-related work authorization documents expire on March 29, 2003, and will not be renewed.

Termination of the TPS designation for Angola does not necessarily affect pending applications for other forms of immigration relief or protection, though former TPS beneficiaries will begin to accrue unlawful presence as of March 29, 2003, if they have not been granted any other immigration status or protection or if they have no pending application for certain benefits.

Notice of Termination of Designation of Angola Under the TPS Program

By the authority vested in me as Attorney General under section 244(b)(3) of the Act, I have consulted with the appropriate agencies of government concerning conditions in Angola. 8 U.S.C. 1254a(b)(3). Based on these consultations, I have determined that Angola no longer meets the conditions for designation of TPS under section 244(b)(1) of the Act. See 8 U.S.C. 1254a(b)(1).

Accordingly, I order as follows:

(1) The designation of Angola for TPS under section 244(b) of the Act is terminated effective March 29, 2003.

(2) I estimate that there are approximately 316 nationals of Angola (and aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in Angola) who currently receive TPS benefits.

(3) Information concerning the termination of the TPS program for nationals of Angola (and aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in Angola) will be available at local Service offices upon publication of this notice and through the INS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283. This information will also be published on the INS web site at http://www.ins.usdoj.gov.

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Dated: January 23, 2003.

John Ashcroft,

Attorney General.

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[FR Doc. 03-1994 Filed 1-24-03; 8:45 am]

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