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Political Asylum and Refugees

SUMMARY OF THE REAL ID ACT 2005, Public Law 109-13, Effective May 11, 2005.
  1. Public Law 109–13, 109th Congress, REAL ID ACT OF 2005;
  2. Analysis of the Major Provisions of the REAL ID Act of 2005, CRS Immigration;
  3. Judicial Review changes in the REAL ID Act;
  4. Sections 101 and 106 of the REAL ID Act of 2005, Sec. 242 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as amended

The “Real ID Act of 2005" was signed into law (Pub. Law No. 109-13) on
May 11, 2005, as Division B of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations
Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005, and
became effective on the date of enactment.

(Sec. 101) Amends Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provisions
concerning asylum to: (1) authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security,
in addition to the Attorney General, to grant asylum (retroactive to
March 1, 2003); (2) require asylum applicants to prove that race,
religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or
political opinion was or will be (if removed) the central reason for
their persecution; and (3) provide that an applicant's testimony may be
sufficient to sustain this burden of proof only if the trier of fact
determines that it is credible, persuasive, and fact-specific. Requires
corroborating evidence where requested by the trier of fact unless the
applicant does not have the evidence and cannot reasonably obtain it
without departing the United States. States that the inability to obtain
corroborating evidence does not excuse the applicant from meeting his or
her burden of proof.

Lists factors relevant to credibility determinations in asylum cases,
including (but not limited to) the: (1) demeanor, candor, or
responsiveness of the applicant or witness; (2) inherent plausibility of
the applicant's or witness' account; (3) consistency between the
applicant's or witness' written and oral statements; (4) internal
consistency of each such statement; (5) consistency of such statements
with other evidence of record (including the Department of State's
reports on country conditions); and (6) any inaccuracies or falsehoods
in such statements regardless of whether they go to the heart of the
applicant's claim. States that there is no presumption of credibility.

Makes this Act's provisions regarding proof requirements and credibility
determinations in asylum proceedings applicable to other requests from
relief for removal.

Limits judicial review of determinations regarding the availability of
corroborating evidence.

Removes the numerical limit on the number of aliens granted asylum who
may become lawful permanent residents in any fiscal year (currently set
at 10,000).

Asylum, 8 U.S.C. §§ 1158(a), 1101(a)(42)
Asylum is strictly a discretionary form of relief. To qualify for
asylum, an alien must demonstrate a well grounded fear of
persecution upon return to the country of such person's nationality
on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a
particular social group, or political opinion. An application for
asylum is deemed also to constitute an application for withholding
of deportation (discussed below). An alien who has been convicted of
an aggravated felony may not apply for or be granted asylum. 8
U.S.C. § 1158(d). Moreover, an asylum application must be denied if
the alien having been convicted by a final judgment of a
particularly serious crime in the United States, constitutes a
danger to the community. 8 C.F.R. § 208.14.

To be successful on an asylum claim, the alien must prove: (1) that
he or she has a well-founded fear of persecution or has suffered
past persecution; (2) that such persecution is because of race,
religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or
political opinion; and (3) that asylum should be granted in the
exercise of discretion.

Withholding of Removal, 8 U.S.C. § 1253(h)
To qualify for withholding of removal, an alien must demonstrate
that his or her life or freedom would be threatened upon return to
the proposed country of deportation, for one of the five reasons
that would provide a basis for an asylum claim. Unlike asylum, which
is strictly a discretionary form of relief, withholding of
removal is a mandatory form of relief for qualified applicants.
Moreover, the asylum and withholding statutes have different
eligibility standards. Under the "well founded fear" standard for
asylum, a demonstration that a reasonable person in the applicant's
circumstances would fear persecution will suffice. However,
withholding of removal requires a "clear probability" that one's
life or freedom would be threatened. An alien is ineligible for this
form of relief if it is determined that such alien, having been
convicted by a final judgment of a particularly serious crime,
constitutes a danger to the community of the United States. An alien
who has been convicted of an aggravated felony shall be considered
to have committed a particularly serious crime. 8 U.S.C. §

Temporary Protected Status, 8 U.S.C. § 1254a
An eligible deportable alien may be granted temporary protected
status in the United States if the alien's country of nationality
has been designated by the Attorney General as a place where
extraordinary and temporary conditions, such as armed conflict and
natural disasters, exist. An alien convicted of any felony in the
United States would be ineligible for this relief.

  • Who is a refugee? According to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is a person who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."
  • Asylum Procedures - Final Rule, December 6, 2000 (pdf)
  • Amnesty International
  • Amnesty International Index of publications 1996 -
  •'s Country Profiles : a browsable library of nearly every country in the world, meant to enhance our news providing you background about a country's history, culture, geography, natural resources, government, politics, economics and demographics. For each country, you'll also find a color map, its flag and its national anthem in RealAudio. In addition, you can use our Interactive Atlas, a database of sortable statistics and cultural differences, to compare each county to others in the world and to conduct your own investigations of world geography, demographics and cultural diversity.
  • "Asylum Request Processing" The Chief Immigration Judge has posted an Operating Policy and Procedures Memorandum on the EOIR web site. (April 2000) This document is intended to provide guidance on the Court's policy regarding asylum processing. Operating Policy and Procedures Memorandum No. 00-00, Asylum Request Processing.(.pdf file). You will need Acrobat Reader to view this document. Download Adobe Acrobat Reader: Adobe∆ Acrobat∆ ReaderŰ is free, and freely distributable, software that lets you view and print Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.
  • CALS Asylum Case Research Guide: CALS represents refugees seeking political asylum in the United States because of threatened persecution in their home countries. Students in CALS assume primary responsibility for the representation of these refugees, whose requests for asylum have already been rejected by the U.S. government. This Website describes some basic sources for research on behalf of individuals seeking asylum in the United States. It was designed for use by students at the Center for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), the asylum law clinic at Georgetown University Law Center. Links go to pages on all aspects of asylum research, including country conditions, immigration law, asylum law, foreign law, practice skills, INS resources, United Nations documnets, and bibliographies.It was developed and is maintained with the assistance of the International and Foreign Law Department of the Georgetown University Law Library. Most of the links available from this Guide are accessible online without charge, though a few of the links are to subscription databases and are available only to their subscribers. Also, not all reference sources pertinent to asylum cases are online. Therefore, this Guide also includes references to useful print materials and CD ROMs. All call numbers and locations refer to the location of materials at the Georgetown University Law Library.
  • Global clearinghouse of case support and legal tools relating to asylum claims.
  • database: Statistical information for each of the more than 230 United States Immigration Judges is available to registered users. The statistics show, for each judge and collectively by each city that has an immigration court, the number of asylum cases decided and granted over a five year period ending in 1999. Additional information normalizes the raw statistics based on national statistics for grants by country of origin, giving each judge a ranking relative to his or her peers across the country.( PDF file on all Judges)
  • Asylum, Refugee, and Other Protected Statuses
  • Census Bureau
  • Center of international and European Law on Immigration and Asylum
  • CIA- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • CIA World Factbook 2000- The US Central Intelligence Agency has released the 2000 version of its well-known annual country information reference book. Data is available for more than 260 countries. For each country, map and flag, geographic, population, government, economic, communication, transportation, military, and transnational issue information is provided for the latest date available (In general, information available as of 1 January 2000 was used in the preparation of this edition. .Included among the 266 geographic listings is one for the 'World,' which includes data and other information summarized where possible from the other 265 listings. There are also eighteen reference maps in .pdf or .jpg format and eight appendices. Linked to from hundreds of sites, the World Factbook is widely recognized as one of the finest online resources for quick country information.
  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada site. (See, Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.)
  • Country information from around the world. A resource for business, tourists, students and teachers. The Internets best source of country data. E-Conflict World Encyclopedia at:
  • Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
  • Guide to human rights sites on the Internet
  • Guide to Country Research for Refugee Status Determination: a supplement to the legal analysis integral to refugee status determination (RSD) with a review of the mechanics of country research. Recommendations for retrieving and applying country and human rights information as a means to enhance refugee protection.
  • Human Rights Resources
  • InfoNation: an easy-to-use, two-step database that allows you to view and compare the most up-to-date statistical data for the Member States of the United Nations.
  • International Human Rights Database
  • Lawyer's Committee for Human rights
  • Migration News (Monthly summary of immigration news from around the world)
  • U.S. Library of Congress Country Studies - series of studies on nations that include facts-at-a-glance and comprehensive sections on history, society and culture.
  • Library of Congress Country Studies Data Library. A continuing series of books prepared by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress under the Country Studies/Area Handbook Program sponsored by the Department of the Army. This on line series presently contains studies of 100 countries. Countries that were previously in multi-country volumes are now available individually.
  • National Immigration Project (NIP) of the NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD: 14 Beacon Street, Suite 602, Boston, MA 02108 tel. 617.227.9727 fax 617.227.5495
  • Physicians for Human rights
  • Preparing the best asylum cases: case support, legal tools.
  • Project Diana: the international archive of human rights legal documentation. Project Diana appears under the guidance of the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School. It is designed to be a reference tool for research in human rights law, with online litigation documents and links to reference sites
  • Refugee/Ayslum Law Training Manual: Chicago Center for International Human Rights.
  • Refugee Case law Site: This database of international case law on refugees documents how the highest courts of eight countries (including the United States and Canada) have defined "refugee" over the last fifty years. It includes approximately
    400 cases (require Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing). The database is searchable by case name, country of origin, court, date, jurisdiction, or Hathaway number. Cases tried in Germany and Switzerland will be in French or German
  • Table of Contents for Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1998. Reports released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor U.S. Department of State, February 26, 1999
  • UNHCR- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • Unpublished BIA decision, dated 11-30-99 (decision by Vacca), in which it was held that the Immigration Judge failed to accord sufficient weight to the evidence respondent submitted in support of his asylum claim.
  • White House
  • Asylum and Withholding Definitions - Proposed Rule, December 7, 2000 (.pdf file)
  • Roman v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, No. 99-3510 (12/5/00) 7th Cir Pet. for Rev., Order of Bd. of Immigration Appeals. Aff'd. ALJ did not err in denying aliens'
    requests for asylum based on claims of past and future persecution
    if aliens were forced to be returned to Romania; while ALJ cut-off
    questioning by aliens' counsel, aliens failed to establish due
    process violation where aliens failed to show that ALJ excluded
    testimony that would have affected outcome of case. Moreover, while
    record showed that aliens were subject to acts of harassment in
    Romania, aliens failed to establish that Romanian govt. was source
    of harassment.
  • Rodica Pop v. INS, Record supported denial by immigration judge of alien’s asylum
    request based on alien’s claims of past persecution; record
    contained inconsistencies with respect to alien’s testimony that she
    was mistreated in home country by school system and by local police.
    Moreover, alien’s application form failed to mention said incidents
    of mistreatment. Argued September 25, 2001--Decided November 2,
    2001 (Seventh Circuit) On Petition for Review From the Board of
    Immigration Appeals.

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