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The Face Of Political Asylum Essay

1564 words - 6 pages

According to US Legal, Incorporated, a legal destination site for consumers, small business, attorneys, and corporations, the legal definition for political asylum is as follows:
“Political asylum refers to the protection given to political refugees from arrest by a foreign jurisdiction. A nation or embassy that affords such protection is also called asylum. Asylum is not the same as refugee. In case of asylum the asylum-seeker (or asylee) seeks his or her status after arriving in what is hoped will be the welcoming country, whereas a refugee is given that status before traveling to the final destination” (Political Asylum Law and Legal Definition). Statistics show a surge in the number of refugees that have been granted asylum in the United States over an eighteen-year period. The United States is the largest single recipient of asylum applications worldwide. About half of those seeking asylum in the United States come from Latin American countries (U.S. Asylum System). European asylum applicants accounted for only 11 percent of the total grants of asylum in the United States during 2008 (Morrill). Political asylum is difficult to obtain in the United States but it is worth the effort to secure freedom from persecution.
People have varying reasons for leaving their countries. Therefore, asylum is a complicated issue. Not all asylum-seekers have a good reason for seeking protection from another government. Also, the procedure for acquiring asylum is complex. It involves a number of interviews, and the paperwork can seem overwhelming. In order to receive asylum, a person must be a refugee, which U.S. immigration defines as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country “because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution.” (Morrill). The U.S. Supreme Court states that the term “well-founded fear of persecution” means a “reasonable” fear of persecution (U.S. Immigration Information). The persecution must be countrywide. If the applicant can avoid persecution by moving to another place within his or her home country, the applicant can be denied asylum (Morrill).
There is much discretion on the part of an asylum officer or immigration judge. Even if an applicant meets the statutory definition of “refugee,” a grant of asylum is not guaranteed (Morrill). The probability of being granted asylum varies significantly across immigration courts. For instance, applicants in San Francisco were twelve times more likely to be granted asylum than applicants in Atlanta. Applicants in New York were ten times more likely to be granted asylum than applicants in Atlanta. And in Dallas and Houston, applicants were seven times more likely to be granted asylum than in Atlanta (U.S. Asylum System). In 1996, Congress amended the Refugee Act to block asylum for any applicant who fails to apply within one year of entering the United States. Reports have shown that bona fide refugees with strong claims to asylum have been turned down...

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