Attorney Mooradian’s client was recently granted asylum after trial at the Boston Immigration Court. Mooradian’s client, who had settled in Worcester several years ago, feared return to his country of origin due to future religious persecution.
While there had been no past persecution in this case, there were changed circumstances which caused the client’s fear of return. He had converted his religion from Islam to Christianity, and he would have been identifiable due to his marriage to a Christian woman and due to his family’s knowledge of his baptism.
To win asylum, a client must show that he has both a subjective fear of return to the country of origin and that the fear is objectively reasonable. In this case, the client testified that he was afraid to return to the home country, which is majority Muslim, because he could be attacked, beaten, jailed, or killed. Indeed, he feared that the government or police would either turn a blind eye, or perhaps even commit the persecution themselves. From an objective standpoint, Attorney Mooradian submitted substantial legal briefing and country conditions evidence demonstrating a significant likelihood of persecution. While evidence was not readily available detailing persecution of Christians in the country, there was evidence that many Christians are forced to practice underground to ensure their safety, and that the country would not allow for adequate third-party investigations by human rights groups. The lack of information around religious persecution of Christians, combined with poor human rights practices toward other religious minorities generally, was persuasive. The Immigration Judge decided to grant asylum immediately prior to closing arguments.
In order to win asylum, the client must show that the persecution (i.e., harm) would be on account of race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Here, the religious based claim was successful. Now, instead of being deported to a country where the client would not be safe, he is an asylee. He must remain in this immigration status for one year until he can then apply for permanent resident status, which is a path to citizenship. Meanwhile, he will be able to apply for immigration benefits for his wife and extend or renew his work authorization.