VIDEO: What makes an asylum case weak or strong?

What makes some asylum cases stronger than others asylum cases? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration attorney here in St. Louis. We thought we’d shoot this video today to explain to you by telling you two stories about how asylum works in the United States. A lot of people have questions about asylum so we thought that the easiest way to set it forward for you would be to tell you the story of two different people and why we think one case is a strong asylum case and why the other one isn’t such a strong case.

Let’s start with Edie from Ethiopia. Edie came in the United States just a few months ago. While he was here there was a coup in Ethiopia, and the government changed, and the leaders of the new regime hate the people of the ethnic background of Edie. That is that there’s been gang warlord fights in Ethiopia for years that at different times different entities come to power and now Edie’s group is being oppressed. There’s multiple news reports of gang violence towards people in Edie’s ethnic group, and it really looks as if Edie were to return home that he could face persecution.

Edie told us a story of his uncle getting beaten and kidnapped in Ethiopia and only being released after his family paid $25,000 worth of ransom. Edie has some identifying marks that make him readily ascertainable as being a member of that group.

In that case Edie would have a pretty strong asylum case. This is a typical kind of a situation that we hear about in asylum. Asylum is designed to protect people from persecution when they go back to their home country and we think here Edie could really face persecution, and that we could document it both through news stories, reports of country conditions from the Department of State, and by demonstrating that people in Edie’s family have already faced persecution. If Edie had ever faced persecution of his own based on his background in the past then we could demonstrate that as well.

With many things in asylum it’s all about how much evidence you have and the quality of that evidence. So we would want to put together a really strong asylum application based on both country conditions and Edie’s particular facts, and show that if Edie were to return home now that he would be in big trouble. We think Edie’s case would probably get approved.

At the same time let’s talk about Sam from Syria. Sam from Syria has been studying in the United States for the last four years on a valid F-1 student visa. It’s about ready to expire because he’s going to graduate and he’s not been able to line up a job or any OPT to be able to work with an employer after he graduates. Sam comes to us and he says, “Jim look, we are from Syria, me and my wife. If we were to return home to Syria things are really horrible, and because of the civil war there’s been a lot of unrest and a lot of violence, and there’s not a lot of government control, and we’re really worried about what would happen to us if we come back to Syria.”

At that point we would go down a series of questions and ask Sam if he thinks that he’s going to be persecuted based on a protected class like his race, or his religion, or his political opinion, those kind of things. A lot of times people in Sam’s situation don’t have any particularized reason to think that they’re going to face persecution. They just basically come to us and say, “Things are really rough back in my home country of Syria. Do you think I can get asylum?”

We think this would be a much harder case to win. Without any real evidence to show that Sam is going to be targeted because of who he is, because of his ethnic background, or his religious background, or membership in a social group, we think there’s a real chance that an asylum case for Sam might not work. Now, there’s other options that we might be able to get for him, but right now it wouldn’t look like based on these facts that Sam is going to get asylum.

What do these two cases tell us? I think what they tell us is that the cases are pretty fact specific, that you have to be concerned that you establish enough evidence that the people are entitled to asylum, and that these are hard cases to make and that you need a whole lot of evidence and you need to put them together as best you can. If you have any questions about asylum, if you want to know what the chances are of your case getting asylum give us a call 314-961-8200 or you can email me jim@hackinglawpractice.com . Thanks.