In the United States, asylum status is only awarded to those who demonstrate a credible fear that they will suffer persecution upon returning their home country. Often, this fear is often linked to one’s social status, religion or ethnicity. The ambiguous term ‘social status’ may refer to one’s political party or sexual orientation as well. In addition to this demonstration of fear, the status-seeking party must demonstrate past persecution resulting from their affiliation.
What Does This Mean?
To put it simply, in order to qualify for asylum, an individual must prove that their situation meets the federal government’s requirements for asylum. It is important to remember that an asylum case is typically more complicated than an average immigration case because the rules for proving asylum are not as well defined as with other types of situations. Because asylum cases are complicated, nobody should try to represent themselves during an asylum hearing. If you or a loved one is interested in pursuing asylum status, speak with a qualified immigration lawyer.
Showing Past Persecution
In most cases, asylum applicants will point to specific incidents of discrimination or poor treatment in the past, typically as it has happened to fellow citizens of the their home country. A history of persecution in this country speaks volumes to officials making this crucial decision. As valid as a potential fear may be, a strong history of action taken by the government against similar provides compelling evidence that can assist in proving your case.
Assessing the Home Country
In addition to analyzing specific instances of discrimination and fears, the immigration judge will also examine the outlook of the home country in order to determine if the climate is becoming more tolerant. Perhaps the country in question has made changes to end persecution of this particular group. If there are no changes on the horizon, your application may have a better chance for approval.
Why Proving Persecution is Difficult
Unfortunately, reports may lead the judge to determine that each act of persecution is an isolated incident. These violent occurrences may include sexual assault, murder and even gang activity. To qualify for asylum, you must be able to demonstrate that persecution is occurring as a result of your political or social status. Proving this type of persecution can be very difficult and is one of the best reasons to work with an immigration lawyer with a good reputation.
Differences in Persecution
Differences in persecution is why each claim needs to focus on including the history of persecution in an individual’s home country as well as how each incident is related to the individual’s protected status or identity. For instance, you should specify that you were persecuted (harmed in some way) by a group for your political affiliation or membership in a particular social group, not that you were simply a victim of violence. Demonstrating that you were targeted on one of the “five bases of persecution” is more likely to result in an approved asylum case. To learn more about the five bases of persecution, review our page:Asylum Eligibility and Requirements
Gangs and Asylum
The history of gang violence in many countries is not unnoticed by the United States government; however, non-gang members are not always considered to be in persecuted groups. Gang incidents are typically considered isolated acts of violence and are not necessarily condoned by the local government. Even proven cases in which the gang is more powerful than the country’s government do not always lead to successful asylum. However, this does not always mean that you do not qualify for asylum. Because asylum cases often involve many factors, always speak with a licensed immigration lawyer to learn if you could qualify for asylum.
Active Involvement in Political Organizations
Applicants for asylum who actively participate in the political arena are much more likely to be granted the status they desire. The relationship between persecution and the political status is much more substantial in the eyes of the U.S. government.
Membership in a Particular Social Group
Membership to a social group is typically only evident to the judge if an individual is able show that they have been an active participant in this group’s official events. It may be necessary to prove that this individual was actively participating in the group through rallies or other specific organizational activities.
It is always helpful to keep documents that prove your allegiance to a specific social or political group. Perhaps you have a membership card or a flier from a meeting. You should also consider finding and joining a similar group once you arrive in the United States. This can be very helpful in proving your allegiance to this group. Showing that you are highly involved and could risk imprisonment or violence to show support may help your case. However, that does not mean that you should purposefully put yourself in danger.
One of the most successful cases for asylum is arrest. Perhaps you were involved in anti anti-government rally and were arrested for your participation. Not only does this provide evidence that you were part of the group, but it also demonstrates passion for the cause. The immigration judge may take this case much more seriously if given this information. This article is not encouraging you to get arrested, but rather that a previous documented arrest may become a useful piece of evidence.
The unfortunate truth is that many applicants for asylum will not be accepted. While receiving a refusal can be troubling, those who are unsuccessful in obtaining asylum have a chance for appeal. On the bright side, applicants who have shown active participation in social and political groups facing trouble in their home countries have a much better appeal case than those who do not.
Asylum Cases Are Taken Very Seriously
The United States government does understand that facing threats and persecution based on social and political group membership is not to be taken lightly. Credible fear of returning to one’s home country to face persecution is valid, and the government intends to take each case seriously
Beeraj Patel, Esq.
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