U.S. Asylum

U.S. Asylum & Refugees

The United States has a strong commitment to human rights at home and around the world. Americans believe that everyone has basic human rights.  One of the ways the United States fulfills this is by granting asylum to any non-citizen in the United States who has a fear of losing his/her basic human rights upon returning to his or her home country.

A person can qualify for asylum (sometimes referred to “political asylum” even though the ground for the relief may not be political in nature), if he or she has experienced past persecution, or has a well-founded fear of future persecution, on account of his/her race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.  While asylum status may be granted on one or more of these reasons at the same time, one of these reasons must be the primary reason for the fear.  What is “well founded fear” is based on both a subjective and objective standard.  Persecution means that the harm an asylum seeker is afraid of is severe enough to be considered a serious violation of one’s human rights. A loss of money or small restriction on liberty is typically not enough to constitute persecution, while a serious threat to one’s life or liberty is more likely to be considered persecution. Race, religion, and national origin are fairly straightforward. Political opinion asylum does not necessarily require a political opinion in order to be a protected opinion; an opinion about a nonpolitical issue can sometimes qualify. An imputed political opinion is sufficient for asylum purposes. A particular social group is a group of people with a common, immutable trait that either cannot be changed or should never be forced to change. Tribal and ethnic groups, certain female victims of domestic violence, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) commonly fit into this category.

Read Alison’s blog on her pro bono work defending Central American women and their children detained in Artesia, New Mexico here and here.

If you have a question regarding whether you may qualify for asylum, please contact us for an evaluation.