Reforming Our Asylum and Refugee Programs Would Be Good for Everyone

Several years ago, NPR reported on a store owner from Honduras who came to the U.S. in search of asylum. She had been brutally attacked by gang members for failing to meet their extortion demands. They poured acid on her arm and beat her so badly that four of her fingers were later amputated. She fled and went into hiding in another part of Honduras. When she returned home five years later, the gang threatened to kill her.

After fleeing to America, she recounted her experience to an asylum officer during her credible fear interview (frequently the first step in the asylum application process), and then showed the officer the acid burn scar and her four missing fingers.

You probably assume that she obtained asylum in the U.S., right? Wrong. She was deported before she could even present her case to an immigration judge. But why?      

Most people understand that asylum seekers must demonstrate that they were harmed or will be harmed in their country of origin. But, as so many find out the hard way, they also must demonstrate that they were harmed on account of their political opinion, race, religion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group (PSG). 

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