Asylum Seekers Question and Answer
Margaret W. Wong & Associates, Co., LPA attorney, Bao Nguyen recently won an important asylum case for a client from India. Our readers had these questions: Q. Who is that? What’s his or her name? What state is he from in India?
A. Asylum is the most delicate type of immigration award. People who seek asylum are in fear for their lives and the lives of their family. Reprisal is a very real concern for asylum seekers. It happens. You hear stories, and many have basis in fact. So when you come to the US Government, you’re holding your life in your hands, and it’s key to your safety for everyone involved to afford you the strictest confidence. So we can’t talk about the client.
Q. How could an Indian Asian win asylum in the US?
A. Requests for asylum are most often made because the person either has suffered, or fears suffering persecution in one or a combination of five areas: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Q. How did you get the client asylum?
A. Our client had a very compelling case. The court was thorough in identifying all the details, and they found our client’s case was exactly the kind of case that asylum law is designed to protect.
Q. How important is preparation to the asylum applicant’s chances of success?
A. Most immigration cases that fail, regardless of the circumstances, fail due to incomplete documentation. The asylee’s paperwork has to be in order. That means every detail about the asylee’s life has to be written down, and all identification papers have to be on hand. Also, every possible piece of corroborating evidence has to be in place.
Q. What about the things the asylee most fears? How is that recorded?
A. Critical to an asylee case is exactly that: what the asylee fears. The client’s story has to be clear, and clearly documented. That means the client has to put her story in writing, laying out all the details and reasons for the request. It’s important to detail what happened or could happen. Each aspect of the individual’s history has to be detailed, so the court can quickly determine the basis for the request.
Q. I would be awfully nervous in court – being interrogated by the Judge and government attorney. How do you help the client?
A. We sit down with the client, and review the questions she is likely to hear in the court: what the attorney is going to ask, and also the questions the government is likely to ask. She’s the star witness. Being nervous is normal. So being ready is the best antidote. There’s no stopping her from being nervous, but if she’s heard the questions before, she’ll be ready when she hears them again. She won’t lose the confidence of her convictions in front of the court.
Q. How will the court believe her? Aren’t most asylum cases denied?
A. We ensure all the documents are in order, that the story is well documented, and that the client is well prepared for communicating her case. Then we assure her to just be honest, and be comfortable with being herself. An underprepared client, and a client not comfortable that her asylum claim is compelling and completely aligns with the facts, is a client who is at risk of failing in her case.
You’re the client, and it’s your responsibility to have everything in order. But if your attorney is not fully on your side, helping you prepare, the attorney isn’t helping you win the case.
Bao Nguyen, Esq., Immigration Attorney, Margaret W. Wong & Associates Co., LPA