Small But Important Victories for Asylum Seekers in the United States

So maybe I am preaching to the choir. Yet I cannot ignore the fact that two DREAMers (this term refers to undocumented students in the United States awaiting passage of the federal DREAM Act) made their grievances known about the U.S. asylum-granting system in the space of two days, albeit over separate cases.

Quaker posts here about how the Department of Homeland Security opposed asylum in the case of three Brentwood children who had been beaten, exploited and sexually abused by family members in their native Honduras. DHS and its nativist lapdogs like Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for [Nativist] Immigration Studies (from now on, we will endearingly refer to it as the CNIS), were set adamantly against this because up until now, asylum was only granted to applicants who showed past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

“It’s unfortunately part of a trend where asylum is expanding to areas it was never meant for.”

Of course, Krikorian is going to be upset. For someone who believes that granting two people in love the right to stay together is ‘extremism’ you cannot expect anything less ignorant from the CNIS.

So, according to Homeland Security, these three children did not fall into the category of people fleeing persecution due to their membership in a “particular social group.” Accolades are in order for Judge Gabriel Videla for breaking from past trends and ruling that as “members of the family who were physically abandoned by their parents,” the children did constitute a social group. However, a long list of asylum seekers based on inter-family violence await certain rejection since this decision does not set any sort of precedent.

‘Damn Mexicans’ writes about Attorney General Mukasey blasting an Immigration Judge for denying asylum to a¬†woman because “her genitalia already had been mutilated [so] she had no basis to fear future persecution if returned to her home country.” From the LA Times, Sept 23:

“To begin with, the board based its analysis on a false premise: that female genital mutilation is a ‘one-time’ act that cannot be repeated on the same women,” Mukasey wrote. “As several courts have recognized, female genital mutilation is indeed capable of repletion.”

He cited a case where an asylum applicant’s vaginal opening was sewn shut five times after being opened to allow for sexual intercourse and childbirth.

“The board was wrong to focus on whether the future harm to life or freedom that [the applicant] feared would take the ‘identical’ form,” he added.

But Mukasey’s order does not automatically grant U.S. residency to the woman. Instead, the appeals board must now reconsider its earlier ruling.

I would say I am shocked, appalled, infuriated by the drawbacks in our system but alas, knowing that some U.S. Immigration Judges make their decisions based on wikipedia searches, this sort of (il)logic does not surprise me. And it should surprise no one. Also, see this post here about how the United States is in violation of International Law due to its treatment of asylum seekers as criminals.

Such inconsistencies plague the current system of determining asylum that the decision to grant asylum has less to do with the facts of the case and more to do with which Immigration Judge ends up hearing your case.
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