IN FOCUS: Palestinians in the Americas - Lands of Opportunities Untapped?

IN FOCUS: Palestinians in the Americas - Lands of Opportunities Untapped?

by Francesca Albanese* and Elisa Mosler Vidal**

Photo: Demonstration in solidarity with the Palestinian people outside the La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, Chile (Source:

In 2008, Condoleezza Rice proposed solving the Palestinian refugee question by sending Palestinian refugees from the Middle East to Latin America.[1] Rice put forward the idea at a meeting with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators discussing the fate of the estimated five million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. Given that Chile and Argentina are fairly sparsely populated and have large Arab, including Palestinian, diaspora communities, Rice suggested these countries and possibly others in Latin America could contribute to the refugees by giving up land.[2]

This suggestion is emblematic of the United States’ (USA) historical approach to Palestinian claims, and shows its geopolitical regional priorities. Troublingly, it also displays a pass-the-parcel approach to refugee politics that is grounded in political convenience rather than legal norms. The outcome of the recent USA presidential elections makes us fear that such an approach to Palestinian refugee issues may continue.  

Rice’s proposal never came to fruition and has not been seriously discussed since. However, Rice was right that many South American states – and in fact, the Americas in general – have strong historical connections to Palestine, which often predate the creation of the Palestinian refugee issue.

There are significant communities of Palestinians in the Americas, including refugees. The American countries with the most known Palestinians are as follows:

Country Estimates of Palestinian population, without differentiating between refugees and  pre-1948 immigrants
Chile 500,000[3]
Honduras 200,000-300,000[4]
U.S. 200,000[5]
Brazil 60,000[6]
Canada 42,000-50,000[7]


Former PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat shares a joke with Cuban president Fidel Castro. (PPO/Getty Images)    


Sizable Palestinian diaspora populations are also in Venezuela, El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador and other countries. Hence, both North America, particularly the USA, and South America, have substantial diaspora links through Palestinian immigrants. Some states could offer dignified temporary solutions in times of crisis when many refugees, including Palestinians, are without protection. Moreover, owing to the significant presence of the Palestinian diaspora, these countries could offer an unprecedented platform for lobbying and advocacy for the realization of Palestinian rights. Today, however, the relationship between Palestinians and many states in the region is weaker and these countries no longer attract as many Palestinians fleeing the Middle East.

This article will explore the historical roots of Palestinians in the Americas and some challenges Palestinian refugees have faced there recently in their search for protection.

Historical Background

Palestinians in Latin America

The large Palestinian population in Latin America is composed mainly of long-term immigrants rather than refugees. These immigrants began settling in South and Central America in the second half of the nineteenth century following the modernization of the Ottoman Empire. Palestinian arrivals peaked between 1900 and 1930,[8] though it is difficult to find exact figures for these. It is estimated that 600,000 migrants from Greater Syria had settled in the Americas by 1914, many of whom were from Palestine. The overwhelming majority chose Latin America as their final destination and settled in countries including El Salvador, Chile, and Honduras.[9] Many of them were Ottoman nationals at the time they left Palestine and were denationalized during the British Mandate.[10] Of this group of approximately 40,000-60,000 Palestinians, less than 500 were able to retrieve their nationality under the British Mandate, while the others became, in the words of Mutaz Qafisheh, “the first generation of Palestinian refugees.”[11]

Unlike many of the refugees seeking protection today, these first waves of pre-Nakba Palestinians were predominantly Christian and left Ottoman occupied Palestine to escape military conscription or to seek employment opportunities. Often labeled ‘Turcos’ (‘Turks’) by local communities, many of these Palestinians were merchants[12] and opted to settle in smaller states such as El Salvador and Honduras to avoid competition with larger and more established Arab communities in larger states such as Argentina.[13] Palestinians became so ubiquitous in the region that an old Chilean proverb says every village in the country has three things: a priest, a policeman and a Palestinian.[14]

Comparatively small numbers of Palestinians arrived after the Nakba in 1948 and the 1967 war. Though the majority of displaced Palestinians at that time found refuge within the Middle East, some did establish lives in Latin America due to diaspora connections. Overall, these are thought to make up a relatively small segment of Palestinians in South and Central America.

The number of Palestinian refugees in Latin America has risen recently, mainly due to UNHCR resettlement programs aiding Palestinians stranded in Iraq, Jordan and Syria due to regional conflicts. After UNHCR made an international appeal to governments, Chile was one of the first countries to respond and resettled 116 Palestinian refugees in 2008.[15] Brazil has also taken part in a similar program.[16]

The more recent Palestinian refugees in Latin America have generally different socio-economic and cultural profiles than the earlier immigrants to the continent. Whereas the earlier group was mostly Christian and wealthy, this refugee population is predominantly Muslim and tends to have fewer financial resources.

Efforts to integrate some of these resettled Palestinians have had mixed results. In 2007 Brazil approved the resettlement of 108 Palestinian refugees from Iraq from the Reweished refugee camp in Jordan.[17] After receiving housing, schooling, healthcare and financial support from Brazil during the first two years of their stay, these individuals had difficulties entering the labour market and accessing healthcare.[18]

Palestinians in North America

Palestinian migration to the USA began in the early twentieth century as small numbers of Christians escaped Ottoman persecution.[19] Palestinian flows to the USA grew substantially after the events of 1948 and 1967, as in the following decades many Palestinians came fleeing the West Bank and Gaza Strip, some displaced from Arab countries by subsequent conflicts (particularly those in  Lebanon and the Gulf), and others seeking employment and better opportunities.[20] As of 2015, USA census data stated there were 118,622 Palestinians living in the country,[21] though this is likely a conservative estimate. A community organization estimated there were 180,000,[22] while Helena Lindholm Schulz reported 200,000 in 2001.[23] Canada is host to 24,000-50,000 Palestinians, most of who arrived throughout the 1980s and 1990s from the Middle East.[24]

In recent years, the USA and Canada have taken in a number of Palestinian refugees. The USA took in an amount fleeing Kuwait following the first Gulf War, as well as a number of Iraqis following the American invasion of Iraq.[25] It has resettled small numbers since then, most notably 1,350 Palestinians from Iraq in 2009.[26] Since 2003, Canada has received approximately 100 Palestinian asylum claims every year.[27] The country also participated in a UNHCR resettlement program for Palestinians in 2007, taking in 46 Palestinians from Iraq from Reweished refugee camp in Jordan. These were part of a group of 230 refugees who fled Iraq that included Iranian Kurds and Iraqi asylums seekers.[28] Most recently, Canada adopted special measures to offer resettlement to Syrian refugees and has explicitly made clear that this applies to non-Syrian nationals and stateless people fleeing Syria. As of 2016, the country has resettled 25,000 refugees from Syria; it is unknown how many of these are Palestinian.[29]

A Unique Refugee Protection Regime

Latin America refugee framework: welcoming in theory but of little use in practice

There are broad and progressive regional legal instruments for refugees in the Americas that could be seen as favourable to Palestinians. While most Latin American states do not invoke Article 1D of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (hereinafter 1951 Convention) in determining the status of Palestinian refugees, many of their alternative national refugee frameworks are theoretically welcoming.

As a reaction to the regional refugee crises of the 1980s, a number of Latin American states adopted the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, which builds on the principles of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. The definition of refugees in the Cartagena Declaration includes “persons who have fled their country because their lives, safety or freedom have been threatened by generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order.[30] The Cartagena Declaration is non-binding, but the ratifying countries are expected to enact its principles into domestic law. Chile, El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, Colombia and Brazil have incorporated the Cartagena definition and principles into their national refugee frameworks.[31]

Photo: Palestinian students greeted like celebrities upon arrival in Caracas, Venezuela. November 2014 (Ariana Cubillos)


Photo: Palestinian refugee brothers Rami and Mohammed Othman in the abandoned office building where they live with several other Syrian refugees. 2015 .(Source:

This expansion of refugee status criteria to include generalized violence is key. It extends protection to those who have not been subject to individual persecution but rather find themselves in danger due to violence, discrimination or aggressions occurring in their place of habitual residence. This could be relevant for asylum seekers who live in ongoing instability but have not received an individual threat, as the spectrum to ascertain asylum claims under the Cartagena Declaration is somewhat broader than under the 1951 Convention. 

In 2004, 20 states in Latin America adopted the Mexican Declaration and Plan of Action for Strengthening International Protection for Refugees in Latin America.[32] This was intended to align Latin American states under uniform refugee status determination processes and a strong agenda to protect refugees. Chapter Three of the Mexico Plan of Action calls specifically for durable solutions, including programs to facilitate self-sufficiency and local integration for resettled refugees and gave rise to the Regional Solidarity Resettlement Programme, a part of the Plan that aimed to promote durable refugee solutions in Latin America.[33]

The plan reinforces the principles of the 1951 Convention and, significantly, the expanded refugee definition of the Cartagena Declaration. Therefore, it could serve as another welcome tool for greater recognition of Palestinians as refugees in Latin American states.[34] At the same time, given the sensitivity of a ‘durable solution’ for Palestinian refugees, it is expected that many will be skeptical of embracing any ‘durable’ opportunity outside the framework of a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, despite this welcoming legal environment, the majority of post-1948 Palestinian arrivals in Latin America choose not to use conventional refugee and asylum procedures to obtain residency status. Rather, they tend to enter with visitor visas or temporary stay permits, which they convert into permanent residency permits under the respective country’s immigration procedures with the help of community and family networks.[35] For example, most Palestinian refugees in Mexico currently use annually renewable temporary residency permits to stay in the country. UN bodies suggest this is due to the fact that this is relatively easier than using asylum routes and this habit is in turn compounded through community networks.[36] Nevertheless this merits further attention; refugees should to use the full spectrum of rights they are entitled to as refugees, especially in a favorable legal context such as the Latin American one. The trend of neglect of the asylum avenue could point to insufficient legal aid and awareness and/or distrust of national asylum systems.

Recent options: humanitarian visas and reduction of statelessness

There have been encouraging ad hoc efforts to increase refugee intakes in the region in recent years.

In the wake of the Syria crisis, some states have started using ‘humanitarian visas’ to help resettle refugees from Syria, including Palestinians. For example, in 2013 Brazil introduced humanitarian visas for the Syria crisis outside of its standard Refugee Status Determination (RSD) and Cartagena procedures. These visas are intended for ‘victims of conflict’ and enable individuals to apply for asylum upon arrival in Brazil. Individuals with a certain level of economic resources and diasporic connections to Brazil are favored, in order to increase chances of successful integration. Over 8,450 humanitarian visas have been issued to date, and refugee status has been granted to more than 2,000 Syrians.[37] Efforts to continue resettling Syrians, however, are currently under threat as the new Brazilian administration has indicated it wants to suspend future plans.[38] Argentina launched its ‘Programa Siria’ in 2014, which operates in the same way and explicitly seeks to admit UNRWA-registered Palestinians living in Syria to Argentina.[39] The program has been successful, though on a smaller scale to Brazil’s – to date Argentina has granted approximately 500 humanitarian visas.[40] It is unclear how many of these were Palestinian.

Furthermore, there has recently been an increased focus on statelessness principles and instruments across Latin American refugee systems, many of which do not currently have statelessness procedures in place.[41] This has been partly in response to a UNHCR drive to spread the recognition of statelessness; a regional summit of 28 Latin American states commemorating the Cartagena Declaration in 2014 gave rise to the Brazil Declaration and Plan of Action,[42] vowing to eradicate statelessness in the continent by 2024. In 2014 Brazil offered citizenship to all stateless persons[43] and will soon adopt the practice of Stateless Status Determination for refugees. Argentina and Colombia have indicated they will consider similar moves. A greater push for recognition of statelessness in Latin America could mean greater recognition of Palestinian refugees’ status, given that they are one of the largest stateless populations in the world.[44] This in turn has the potential to help improve protection of Palestinian refugees.[45]

These two emerging practices are positive developments that could translate into greater rates of protection for Palestinian refugees escaping major crises such as the Syrian conflict.

A mixed welcome in North America

The situation is somewhat different in North America. The USA is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention or the two Statelessness Conventions, and Article 1D, therefore, does not apply to Palestinian asylum claims in the USA.[46] In recent years, the USA has had some questionable policies concerning refoulement of Palestinian refugees. The practice of refoulement[47] is absolutely prohibited according to customary international law and is defined as the forcible return of refugees and asylum seekers to a country where they might be subject to persecution. In 2015, Palestinians arriving to the USA from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were subject to deportation to those states, and in 2002 USA authorities returned Palestinians “to Palestine.”[48] Current USA President Trump, a staunch ally of Israel, has made incendiary remarks towards Muslim refugees and migrants and government policy towards Palestinian refugees in particular is unlikely to soften in the next four years.

There is no standard practice for the registration of Palestinian refugees or asylum seekers in Canada, despite that country partially incorporating the 1951 Convention. This lack of specific form of classification or protection for Palestinian claimants in Canada makes it hard to compile meaningful statistics. Palestinians seeking asylum can be registered as Palestinian, stateless, or from the country in which they resided before coming to Canada (e.g. Lebanon). Evidence is scant, but in the early 2000s most Palestinian refugees were thought to come from Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, while today Palestinians from Syria are most likely the majority.[49]

Additionally, registration with UNWRA has no impact on the determination of admissibility and eligibility of the claim. Nevertheless, Canada has tended to grant asylum to Palestinians in high numbers.[50] Canada interprets Article 1D as an exclusion rather than inclusion clause; Palestinian refugees in Canada are outside UNRWA regions and are therefore eligible for refugee status determination. This means claims for refugee status submitted by Palestinians are considered on the basis of a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of former habitual residence under the 1951 Convention grounds and are given equal consideration for asylum access as other refugee groups.[51]

Canada lacks clear statelessness determination legislation and procedures, which impacts Palestinian refugees. There are accounts of failed Palestinian refugee applicants remaining in legal limbo as they face difficulties being recognized as stateless. Furthermore, even if they are recognised as stateless this is not considered a persuasive factor to approve a Humanitarian and Compassionate Consideration application, a Canadian alternative to refugee status.[52]

Politicization of Palestinian Refugees Across the Americas

One factor affecting the classification of Palestinian refugees in some states in the region is its politicization. In general, states’ treatment of Palestinian refugees often reflects their diplomatic and political responses to the ebb and flow of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. 

In 2012, Venezuela abolished entry visas for Palestinians.[53] This was a politically motivated move signaling the country’s solidarity with Palestine and reinforcing its cut in diplomatic ties with Israel.[54] It is not clear how many Palestinians arrived in Venezuela following this change. There are a number of Venezuelan government initiatives to help Palestinian refugees, including medical school scholarship programs for refugees and a plan to resettle Palestinian orphaned children in 2014. Despite their strong political symbolism, however, most of these initiatives have not been successful or have been discontinued. For example, one third of students on medical school scholarships, many of whom had come from refugee camps, dropped out of the program due to its lack of academic rigor.[55]

More often, however, the politicization of Palestinian refugees operates in the other direction. The USA often uses a ‘persecutor of others’ category as grounds of asylum exclusion. In theory this prevents ‘persecutors of others’ from being granted asylum to the USA, though in practice it has barred many non-violent politically active asylum seekers. These grounds have been invoked in many cases with Arab, including Palestinian, asylum seekers. Various Arab activists have been denied asylum for throwing stones, participating in demonstrations, and spreading dissident speech. Furthermore, the USA has punitive policies regarding political affiliations and activity that restrict some Palestinian asylum seekers’ claims. Hamas, the Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF), Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) were designated by the American government as terrorist organizations in the 1990s, meaning that individuals may be barred from asylum if they have associated with anyone in these organizations. Therefore, if an individual applying for asylum in the USA has, for example, fed a meal to a member of Hamas because they are friends or family, that individual may be barred from asylum.[56]

Despite a generally welcoming policy, there have been, at times, some indications of a politicization of refugee policy towards Palestinians in Canada. Firstly, a number of Palestinian refugee deportations have taken place in Canada; fourteen Palestinians were deported and at least 100 more faced deportation in 2004, though it is unknown what happened to them. Some of those facing deportation risked being sent to the USA, where, if denied refugee status, they could have been detained indefinitely. Most of these were Palestinian families who had fled refugee camps in Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territory.[57] Those from the West Bank had their asylum claims rejected because immigration legal staff did not recognise them as sufficiently persecuted by Israel. One case asserted: “A political instability, in itself, is not a sufficient reason to conclude on the existence of a well-founded reason of persecution. Despite the violence caused by the political instability in the West Bank, documentary evidence does not reveal that there exists a systematic will on the part of the Israeli military authorities to systematically persecute and exterminate the Palestinian population while doing so, despite the horrors caused in the war-torn areas.”[58] A second incident of politicization of refugee policy towards Palestinians took place in 2014, when it was announced that Palestinian refugees displaced by Israeli settlements would not be resettled in Canada, because these were, according to the then Immigration Minister, going to ultimately seek to return home to live in a Palestinian state.[59] It is not known whether this was enacted in Canadian refugee policy.


Regional crises following the so-called ‘Arab spring’ (in Libya and Syria in particular), have continued to further displace and endanger Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. On occasion, places which previously constituted safe havens for refugees, such as neighbouring countries, became a no-go area for Palestinian refugees because of their place of origin. Cases of entire families being stranded at the Jordanian or Lebanese borders with Syria, as well as in Egypt, have not been uncommon in recent years.[60] Therefore, American countries that might offer effective protection to Palestinian refugees should be considered as a safe haven option, even if for temporary purposes only.

Based on current legal frameworks, there is significant potential for several countries in the Americas to help Palestinian refugees – not by offering up land as Rice proposed, but simply by invoking existing refugee laws. In Latin America, a way needs to be found to encourage Palestinian refugees to use official asylum routes to residency, and for state signatories to robustly invoke the Cartagena Declaration and Mexico Plan. This would allow them to benefit from a favorable legal regime, while not diluting or inflating their refugee status: namely, not undermining their ultimate entitlement to a just and durable solution as part of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194. 

In country signatories to the 1951 Convention, a broader interpretation of Article 1D should be used, recognizing Palestinian refugees as ipso facto refugees once they are outside the realm of UNRWA’s protection. UNHCR has publically supported this interpretation of the clause, and should more actively encourage states to adopt it. Meanwhile, UNHCR resettlement programs in Latin America, Canada and the USA should continue on a larger scale for Iraqi, Syrian and other Palestinian refugees. In addition to this, Brazil and Argentina’s humanitarian visa programs should continue and serve as a model for neighboring states.  

Lastly, efforts should be made to depoliticize the issue of Palestinian refugees. In the USA, for example, ‘persecutor of others’ procedures should be used more sparingly when concerning politically active asylum seekers who have not committed an illegal act. 

Although the solution to the Palestinian refugee question will ultimately be a political one, asylum politics should be grounded in international and regional norms and as neutral as possible. Any such solution will require full engagement from the international community and adherence both to principles of international law and to historical justice – a far cry from Rice’s flyaway proposal.

*Francesca Albanese Albanese is a human rights lawyer who has researched and worked on the Palestinian refugee question since 2005. Together with Lex Takkenberg, she is currently writing a book titled A Tale of Fragmentation and Opportunities: The Status of Palestinian Refugees in International Law. The book, due to be published by 2018, covers the genesis and evolution of the Palestinian refugee Question, legal status and treatment that Palestinian refugees enjoy around the world, normative and institutional frameworks applicable/applied to Palestinian refugees and possible just and durable solutions to their claims. She holds a LL.M from SOAS, and is an Affiliate Researcher at the Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM), Georgetown University and Affiliated Scholar to the Refugee Program of the Issam Fares Institute, American University of Beirut. She can be contacted at

**Elisa Mosler Vidal is a migration specialist with a special interest in Palestinian refugees, migrant rights and labor migration. She has worked on migration research with organizations including the Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM), the World Bank and an NGO in the Philippines. She graduated from Georgetown University (Masters, Foreign Service & International Development) and the University of Edinburgh (BA, Philosophy & Politics).

[1] Rory Carroll, "Condoleezza Rice: send Palestinian refugees to South America," The Guardian, 24 January 2011. Available at:  

[2] Ibid.

[3] BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, Closing Protection Gaps: A Handbook on Protection of Palestinian Refugees in States Signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention, 2nd Edition, February 2015, 232. (Herein after ‘BADIL, Closing Protection Gaps’) Available at: /cached_uploads/view/2021/04/18/art1d-2015handbook-1618743231.pdf;  SPRIL Questionnaire (the tool the authors of the new edition of The Status of Palestinian Refugees in International Law have used to gather updated information regarding status and treatment of Palestinian refugees in each country).

[4] BADIL, Closing Protection Gaps, 225.

[5]Helena L. Schulz, The Palestinian Diaspora (Global Diasporas), (London, Routledge, 2003). Schulz estimated that there were 200,000 in 2003, which is corroborated by most research. That number will have continued to grow. The USA 2015 Census counted 118,000; this is likely a very conservative estimate, especially as the USA only started counting Palestinian as a nationality recently.

[6] Cecilia Baeza, “Palestinians in Latin America: Between Assimilation and Long-distance Nationalism,” Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. XLIII. No. 2, Winter 2014 (herein after ‘Cecilia Baeza, “Palestinians in Latin America”’); Charlie Hoyle, "Interview: Latin America's dynamic Palestinian communities," Maan News Agency, 28 November 2013. Available at: ; Authors’ research

[7] BADIL, Closing Protection Gaps, 249.

[8] Cecilia Baeza, “Palestinians in Latin America”

[9] Mutaz Qafisheh, “Genesis of Citizenship in Palestine and Israel: Palestinian Nationality during the Period 1917-1925,” 2009, 11, Journal of the History of International Law, 1 and34. (Herein after ‘Qafisheh, Genesis of Citizenship’)Qafisheh stated that a 1907 report recorded 4000 male emigrants from Palestine to the U.S.A. in ten years. Half of them later reunited with their families.

[10] Qafisheh, Genesis of Citizenship, 34. In 1925, the British Administration in Palestine passed a Palestinian Citizenship Order that gave Palestine natives residing abroad nine months to exercise their right to opt for Palestinian nationality. This short time-frame made it very difficult for these Palestine natives, who were mostly located in Latin America and Europe, to apply for citizenship. Article 2 of the Order, inter alia, specified: “Persons of over eighteen years of age who were born within Palestine and acquired on birth [...] Turkish nationality and on the first day of August 1925, are habitually resident abroad, may acquire Palestinian citizenship by opting in such manner [...] subject to the consent of the Government of Palestine which may be granted or withheld in its absolute discretion [...] This right of option must be exercised within two years of the coming into force of this Order.” The right of individuals of this group to opt for Palestinian nationality had to be exercised within two years starting from the date on which the Citizenship Order entered into force, i.e. between 1 August 1925 and 31 July 1927. However, in November 1925 the British High Commissioner for Palestine decided that the right to this option should begin retroactively from 6 August I924. In a nutshell, the Citizenship Order gave a limit of two years for Palestine natives abroad to register. However the two year term was made to begin from 6 August 1924 (the signature of the Treaty of Lausanne), leaving them de facto only 9 months.

[11] Qafisheh, Genesis of Citizenship, 34-35. Qafisheh elaborates that this first generation was made up of Palestinian natives and their descendants whose nationality remained unresolved.

[12] Cecilia Baeza, “’A new Palestinian consciousness:’ history of the diaspora in Latin America,” The Electronic Intifada. Available at: Baeza attributes this to a new Christian merchant class emerging as a result of ‘Holy Land tourism’ from Europe to Palestine and expanding their activities abroad, as well as to a growing fear of discrimination against Christians in the context of Turkish nationalism. and equent e journeynd Palestine camps,,cognised as refugees and not doing this procedure instead. I think that would make a lot

[13]  Cecilia Baeza, “Palestinians in Latin America”

[14] Al Jazeera, "Palestinians in Latin America unite 'for Palestine'," 17 January 2017. Available at:

[15] Rory Carroll, "Condoleezza Rice: send Palestinian refugees to South America," The Guardian, 24 January 2011. Available at:  

[16] Juliana Arantes Dominguez and Rosana Baeninger, “Overview on Palestinians Resettlement in Brazil,” Available at:

[17] At the decision of the Jordanian Government, Reweished refugee camp, where the Palestinians had been living since 2003, was going to close and there was no durable solution in place for the Palestinians living there.

[18] Occupied Palestine | فلسطين, "Palestinian refugees in Brazil live in miserable condition," 07 January 2011. Available at:

[19] Helena L. Schulz, The Palestinian Diaspora (Global Diasporas), 1st Edition London, Routledge, 2003, 43.

[20] BADIL, Closing Protection Gaps, 260 and 263.

[21] U.S. Census Bureau, “2015 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates - Total Ancestry Reported,” Available at:;   see also Angela Bringham and G. Patricia de la Cruz, We the People of Arab Ancestry in the United States, Census 2000 Special Reports, U.S. Census Bureau, March 2005. Available at:  

[22] Arab America, “Arab Americans,” Available at:  

[23] Helena L Schulz, The Palestinian Diaspora: Formation of Identities and Politics of Homeland, (Routledge, 2005) 81.

[24] BADIL, Closing Protection Gaps, 249 and 267.

[25] BADIL, Closing Protection Gaps, 265.

[26] Miriam Jordan, "U.S. Agrees to Resettle Palestinians Displaced by Iraq War," The Wall Street Journal, 17 July 2009. Available at:

[27] The Coalition against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees, Stateless & Deported: Palestinian
    Refugees Facing Deportation from Canada, 2003-2004 (Montreal, 2004). Available at:   

[28] IRIN-The inside story on emergencies, "Canada to resettle 46 Palestinian refugees," 10 October 2006. Available at:

[29]  Kait Bolongaro, “Palestinian Syrians: Twice Refugees,” Al Jazeera, 23 March 2016. Available at:

[30] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, "Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, adopted by the Colloquium on the International Protection of Refugees in Central America, Mexico and Panama, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, 22 November 1984," UNHCR. Available at: Emphasis added.

[31] See: Reed-Hurtado, 2013, 16: Law 20430 of 2010, Establishes provisions about the Protection of Refugees, Art. 2.2, Chile (16: Ley 20430 de 2010. Establece disposiciones sobre Protección de Refugiados. Art. 2.2 (Chile)); Decree 918 of 2002, Law for the determination of the condition of refugees, Art. 4c, El Salvador (Decreto 918 de 2002. Ley para la determinación de la condición de las personas refugiadas. Art. 4c (El Salvador)); Law on Refugees and Complementary Protection, Different provisions of the General Population Law are reformed, added and repealed, Art. 13 (II), Mexico (Ley sobre Refugiados y Protección Complementaria, Se reforman, adicionan y derogan diversas disposiciones de la Ley General de Población, 2011, Art. 13 (II) (Mexico)).

[32] "Mexico Declaration and Plan of Action to Strengthen International Protection of Refugees in Latin America," ACNUR, Declaración de Cartagena 30 años. Available at:

[33] UNHCR, “The Mexico Plan of Action to Strengthen International Protection of Refugees in Latin America: Main Achievements and Challenges During the Period 2005-2010,” ACNUR. Available at:

[34] BADIL, Closing Protection Gaps, 242.

[35] BADIL, Closing Protection Gaps, 225.

[36] Authors’ ongoing research.

[37] Human Rights Watch, "Why Brazil Should Welcome Syrian Refugees," 20 September 2016. Available at:                                                                                                                                                                                   

[38] News | teleSUR English, "Temer Ends Brazil's Plan to Host 100,000 Syrian Refugees," 17 June 2016. Available at:    

[39] Ministerio de Interior, “Programa Siria: Humanitario programa especial de visado humanitario por para extranjeros afectados por el conflicto de la república árabe de siria,” Available at:

[40] Ministerio de Interior, “Estadísticas,” Available at:

[41]Francisco Quintana and Liliana Gamboa, "Four reasons why the Americas could become the first region to prevent and eradicate Statelessness | European Network on Statelessness," European Network on Statelessness. 11 March 2015. Available at:

[42] Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados | UNHCR/ACNUR. "Brazil Declaration and Plan of Action," 3 December  2014. Available at:

[43] Estadão Conteúdo, "Brasil vai oferecer cidadania a apátridas," Folha Vitória, 14 August 2014. Available at:

[44] Abbas Shiblak, “Stateless Palestinians,” Forced Migration Review, FMR26. Available at:  

[45] Given the uneven recognition of the State of Palestine, Palestinian nationality is not recognized by many countries, who instead classify Palestinians either as ‘stateless’ or register them under the citizenship of the country where they last migrated from. This has made Palestinians often invisible in national statistics, making it difficult to obtain their actual figures and involve them in related decision making processes.

[46] BADIL, Closing Protection Gaps, 263. In the American government’s interpretation, the first paragraph of Article 1D constitutes an exclusion clause to the 1951 Convention, while the second is seen as a nullification of the exclusion clause as applicable to Palestinians, provided they are no longer in UNRWA’s area of operation. Thus Palestinian asylum seekers, as all others, are assessed on past persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution under USA law, which to an extent mirrors the 1951 Convention’s definition.

[47] The prohibition of refoulement is also enucleated by Article 33 of the 1951 Convention.

[48] BADIL, Closing Protection Gaps, 272.

[49] The Coalition against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees, Stateless & Deported, Overview.

[50] Susan Akram and G. S. Goodwin-Gill, "Brief Amicus Curiae on the Status of Palestinian Refugees under International Law," The Palestine Yearbook of International Law, 185-260, 252.

[51] SPRIL Questionnaire.

[52] Authors’ ongoing research.

[53] "Acuerdo de supresión de visa entre la república bolivariana de Venezuela y el estado de Palestina," República Bolivariana de Venezuela, 28 May 2015. Available at:  

[54] Kurnia, "Venezuela abolishes entrance visa for Palestinians," Mi’raj Islamic News Agency, 3 September 2015. Available at:

[55] The Associated Press, "Palestinian students drop out of Venezuela scholarship, causing diplomatic strain,", 16 July 2015. Available at:

[56] BADIL, Closing Protection Gaps, 270.

[57] Electronic Intifada and Coalition against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees, "Stop the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees from Canada," The Electronic Intifada, 8 December 2004. Available at:

[58] Immigration and Refugee Board, RPD File No. MA2-03712 RPD File No. MA2-00250. Available at:

[59] Jessica Barrett, "Canada won't accept Palestinian refugees displaced by controversial Israeli settlements: Immigration minister," National Post, 20 January 2014. Available at:

[60]  Eleonora Vio, "No way out: How Syrians are struggling to find an exit," IRIN-The inside story on emergencies, 10 March 2016. Available at: