Concerns And Assistance On Religious Asylum Cases
Those of you working on behalf of refugees fleeing religious
aware of troubling recent decisions out of several federal circuits,
the Fifth Circuit's opinion in Li v. Gonzales, No. 03-60670 (Nov. 1, 2005). The
Li was vacated with the government's agreement after a broad coalition
concern about the case, and particularly after the US Commission on
International Religious Freedom submitted a detailed letter to the
of Justice expressing its strong concern. That letter, and an article
case, are each being published by Interpreter Releases this month.
Similarly troubling arguments were put forward by the DOJ's Office of
Immigration Litigation in the Mkrtchyan case, but fortunately
Ninth Circuit in an unpublished decision. The government there
argument that a woman arrested and beaten for proselytizing was not
on account of religion because proselytizing was supposedly not
Amnesty International USA, the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies,
Rights First and Jubilee Campaign are working together to ensure that
representing religious refugees are aware of these developments and
importance of raising the International Religious Freedom Act in your
are concerned that the agency and the Office of Immigration
continue to make troubling decisions and arguments defending denials of
protection to those fleeing religious persecution, and we want to
attention materials to help win these cases.
We are particularly interested to hear from attorneys who are facing
convoluted arguments on nexus from either adjudicators or OIL on
For more information about the Li case and for USCIRF's shorter letter to the Attorney General, see:
About The Author
Stephen Knight is the Deputy Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies and Research Fellow,
University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
For an emailed PDF copy of the IRFA amicus briefs submitted in the Li case by the Christian
Legal Society and many others detailing the relevance of the
International Religious Freedom Act to courts hearing religious
persecution claims; and the USCIRF's detailed letter, please contact
the author by email firstname.lastname@example.org and including what
country your client is from and what procedural stage your case is at.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.
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