The United States government recently published updated rules concerning asylum regulations that went into effect in January of 2020. These rules demand significant changes in the ways an individual must demonstrate their suitability for asylum, delineate how an immigration officer or judge must analyze a petitioner’s claim for asylum, and offer further potential grounds for denying an application. Consider how this new asylum law has been altered as a result of this revision, then contact the immigration attorneys at Tsigler Law with any questions you might have about petitioning for asylum in the United States.
Membership in a Specific Social Group
One of the most rapidly growing grounds used to claim asylum in this country is membership in specific social groups. This membership must be clearly articulated on the official record. If it isn’t, future motions will be prevented from being opened in Immigration Court. As a reason for seeking asylum, group membership is commonly used by victims of gang violence or domestic violence or by victims experiencing persecution because of the activities of their family members. New restrictions have made it nearly impossible for asylum seekers to define their social group because these laws prohibit this group if it includes:
- Past or present criminal activities or organizations (gangs)
- Existing in a country with high rates of generalized violence and crime
- Being subject to recruitment attempts by criminal organizations
- Being targeted by criminals due to perceived wealth
- Interpersonal disputes without awareness of government authorities
- Private criminal activities without awareness or involvement of government authorities
- Holding the status of alien returning from the U.S.
Such a severely limiting definition for what qualifies as an acceptable social group makes it much more difficult to prove five grounds for asylum beyond the characteristics specified in the definition of refugee – race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group, and political opinions. These restrictions significantly impact victims of domestic violence or family feuds and targets or gang recruitment, extortion, and violence.
Grounds of Asylum Based on Political Opinions
The new regulations state that for a “political opinion” to serve as the basis of an asylum claim, it must specifically relate to the current political control of the government. Under these rules, even avowed human rights activists in dictatorial countries would be considered ineligible for asylum if they did not actively, openly advocate for a regime change.
Limited Definition of Persecution
Persecution is now defined as an extreme level of harm, severe enough to be considered an exigent threat, or a threat that is immediate and requires urgent attention. Previous forms of mistreatment, such as harassment, empty threats, brief detention, and failure to enforce laws against such actions are no longer considered persecution. This defies decades of research with persecuted groups around the world that demonstrates how persecution tends to be a lengthy form of harm that builds cumulatively over time as the result of innumerable seemingly small injuries.
Creation of “Nexus” Grounds
The new regulations create an expanded list of “nexus” grounds for persecution that would typically not be considered enough to grant asylum. Within refugee law, the “nexus” concept focuses on answering why persecution occurred, not just proving the existence of the persecution. It must be demonstrated that the persecutor was motivated to direct harm toward you based on at least one of the five grounds as sufficient reason for granting asylum.
Evidence Promoting Cultural Stereotypes
If an asylum claim may be considered as promoting cultural stereotypes, evidence in support of the asylum claim can be excluded. Any immigration officer or judge that believes an asylum claim involves the promotion of cultural stereotypes can exclude relevant evidence presented in the case, substantially reducing the likelihood of receiving asylum. For example, a woman fleeing her Latin American country due to spousal abuse could have her evidence dismissed because the adjudicator believes it promotes cultural stereotypes about machismo.
Reasonableness of Relocation
These regulations establish the presumption that international relocation of the asylum seeker may be reasonable if the persecutor is not a member of the government or sponsored by the government. This ignores the frequency with which government officials hire operatives to conduct extrajudicial missions involving the persecution of marginalized groups and political dissidents. Creating groups like death squads made up of off-duty police officers allows these corrupt governments to serve their interests while denying culpability in human rights abuse.
One of the durable solutions that allow refugees to unburden themselves of their refugee status is firm settlement. Once a refugee has firmly resettled in another location, they are considered to have found a durable solution offering protection from their original country and are no longer considered refugees. The new regulations treat asylum applicants that have taken up temporary residence in a third country on their way to the U.S. as being a firm, permanent resettlement. This is disingenuous because such temporary residence in these countries must be regularly renewed, unlike true firm resettlement.
Contact Tsigler Law Today for Help Seeking Asylum
If you or a loved one is seeking asylum in the United States, it is imperative to understand the newly created regulations concerning immigration status. Contact the expert immigration attorneys at Tsigler Law to answer your questions about these changed regulations and help you navigate the increasingly complex challenges of seeking asylum. We are available 24/7 for emergency legal services, so give us a call at (718) 473-9939 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.