Stateless persons are individuals who are without the recognition or protection of any country. Without the protection of citizenship or nationality, stateless individuals are highly vulnerable to discrimination and abuse, and are often denied essential human rights by the state in which they live.
The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there are 12 million stateless persons globally, of which 3.5 million are in countries for which there are reliable statistics counting stateless individuals. An undetermined number of these individuals live in the United States—many without any lawful status, access to rights or protections.
This report focuses primarily on the especially vulnerable population of stateless individuals residing in the United States who have no path to acquire lawful status or become naturalized U.S. citizens under the current law. The report provides an overview of statelessness in the global context, including its causes and often grave consequences to those individuals who are stateless, the international legal framework, and the role of UNHCR. The report then discusses some of the key issues faced by this group of stateless individuals in the U.S. and concludes with recommendations of measures for the U.S. government to take to ensure that these individuals receive the rights and responsibilities that will enable them to participate as full members of society.