Exploring New Approaches to Unsettled Legal Questions

Tag: Asylum & Refugee Law National Competition

Immutable Skills: The Validity of Career-Based Asylum Categories

by Nathaniel Brodsky*

Federal asylum law requires that all “particular social groups,” the persecuted identity upon which an asylum claim is based, demonstrate three qualities: immutability, particularity, and social distinction. While courts have historically rejected careers as particular social groups, since people can change jobs and that characteristic is therefore not immutable, this Contribution argues that a more professionalized career—based on the past experience of acquiring specialized skills—is a valid particular social group under asylum law precedent.

Falsifying a Social Security Number Is Not Morally Turpitudinous

by Claire Lisker*

A conviction for a “crime involving moral turpitude” renders an undocumented immigrant ineligible for cancellation of removal, a discretionary form of relief that the Attorney General may grant to individuals who have remained in the United States for ten or more years. This Contribution argues that falsifying a Social Security number, as criminalized under 42 U.S.C. § 408(a)(7)(B), is not a crime involving moral turpitude.

All Hands on Deck: Preserving the Humanity of Asylum Through Meaningful Judicial Review

by Susan Levinson*

How can asylum applicants and their advocates safeguard their rights to a fair, impartial consideration of their claims when the Board of Immigration Appeals has virtually complete discretion in its decisions? In this Contribution, Susan Levinson (’19) argues that the lack of procedural safeguards built into the asylum process, coupled with the Court’s generally deferential, hands-off approach in the immigration context, deprive vulnerable applicants of their right under due process to a fair, impartial consideration of their claims. Ultimately, this Contribution recommends judicial, regulatory, and legislative reforms to protect legitimate asylum claims.

“Reliable, Specific, and Objective”: The Scope of Judicial Review of Documentary Evidence in Asylum Decisions

by Deirdre Dlugoleski*

Under what standard should courts of appeals review decisions of the Board of Immigration Appeals regarding supporting documentation in asylum cases? In this Contribution, Deirdre Dlugoleski (’19) explains the role of supporting documentation entered into evidence in asylum cases by the applicant, the government, and the Immigration Judge and the standard for admission. The Contribution argues that the scope of substantial evidence review of supporting documentation should be broad, and that courts play an important role in holding the BIA accountable for basing its decisions on reliable information.

A Catch-22? The Social Distinction Requirement for Asylum

by Clay Venetis*

Is the Board of Immigration Appeals’ (“BIA”) test for determining whether an asylum-seeker qualifies as a refugee too restrictive? Clay Venetis (’17) addresses this question based on his experience at the Asylum and Refugee Law National Moot Court Competition, held at the University of California Davis School of Law in March 2016. In order to obtain protection from persecution on the basis of their membership in a group not specified in the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”), asylum-seekers must show that their particular social group possesses “societal distinction” — recognition by society in general, and not just the alleged government persecutors — in their country of origin. This Contribution argues that the “societal distinction” requirement creates a “catch-22” that unfairly denies asylum to those who deserve it, and urges courts to adopt a more flexible, case-by-case approach to determining whether an individual qualifies for asylum.

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