The United States has a strong commitment to human rights at home and around the world. Americans believe that basic human rights should be something everyone has. One of the ways the United States fulfills that is by granting asylum to any noncitizen in the United States who has a fear of losing their basic human rights upon returning to his or her home country.
A person can qualify for asylum, or political asylum, if he or she has
a reasonable fear,
of future persecution,
on account of race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group..
A reasonable fear just means one need not prove conclusively that they will be persecuted in the future; only that they have a good reason to fear that it will happen. Courts have granted asylum in the US to people who have as little as a ten to fifteen percent chance of persecution in the future. Persecution means that the harm an asylum seeker is afraid of is severe enough to be considered a serious violation of one’s human rights. A loss of money or small restriction on liberty is typically not enough to constitute persecution, while a serious threat to one’s life or liberty is more likely to be considered persecution.
Race, religion, and national origin are fairly straightforward. Political opinion asylum does not necessarily require a political opinion in order to be a protected opinion; an opinion about a nonpolitical issue can sometimes qualify. An imputed political opinion is sufficient for asylum purposes. A particular social group is a group of people with a common, immutable trait that either cannot be changed or should never be forced to change. Tribal and ethnic groups, female victims of domestic violence, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) commonly fit into this category.
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