IN - DEPTH

 

ASYLUM

Somalia

Mr. O is a 16-year-old boy from Somalia who is a member of the low-caste Midgan clan. When he was 10 he witnessed his mother's torture and rape by a more powerful clan's militia in their home.  The next day he watched as other powerful clan members invaded his grandfather's farm, killing Mr. O's brother, grandfather, and kidnapping his father. After this attack, Mr. O, his mother and remaining siblings fled to a refugee camp in Kenya where Mr. O was amazed to find his father. The family lived there together until the Kenyan government closed the camp.  Still fearing to return to Somalia because of civil war, the family remained in Kenya.  When they were able to save enough money so that one person could enter the United States and escape a life of persecution, the family chose its eldest child, Mr. O.The Center represented Mr. O at his asylum interview in 1997.  When he learned that he had won, he collapsed in tears of relief at the asylum office. He has not heard from his family in several years, has no idea where his parents are, and does not expect to see them again.

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In another political asylum case, the Center represented a client from Somalia who had been subject to persecution based on his affiliation with a low-caste clan.  Members of a rival clan looted his family home and murdered his uncle, brother and two cousins in front of him. He barely survived on charity from relatives in Saudi Arabia.  By saving over a six-year period, the client was able to accumulate enough money to be smuggled into the U.S. He soon applied for asylum but was denied by an asylum officer, based on what the officer perceived to be inconsistencies in the client's oral and written testimony. The client's oral testimony has always been consistent, but his written testimony was done by another person who was not proficient in English, thereby causing confusion.
The Law Center represented the San Jose resident in Immigration Court, explained the apparent inconsistencies, and the Immigration Judge ruled in the client's favor.  The grant of asylum means that the client will receive authorization to work and to immigrate his wife and daughter from India.
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