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Dear Editor:
The discussion about the Alvarado case has degenerated, unfortunately, into a sarcastic gripe session, which has lost sight of the some of the fundamental legal principles underlying gender-based asylum cases. I'm surprised to see an immigration attorney engaging in the debate at the same level as those who do not understand the first thing about political asylum law. Assuming Mr. Murray is sarcastic when he refers to Communism as the scourge of the earth, is he saying that the prostitution of asylum law began with its misguided application during the Cold War? If so, I agree with him, but I don't hear too much public outcry against this. The same "blanket" asylum was granted to people from behind the Iron Curtain as he fears being granted to abused women today. During the Cold War, all someone from a Communist country had to say to get asylum or refugee status was that they did not feel free to live as they chose. What if they had all tried to leave - could we have, should we have, supported them all? I think the answer is quite obvious. At the same time, more technically deserving applicants from right wing dictatorships supported by the US had a much harder time proving their claims. Even recently, in the Elian Gonzalez case, one of the claims stated was that Elian didn't have any toys in Cuba. Lots of 3rd world children don't have any toys - are we going to bring them all here? Certainly not. Nor do the proponents of gender-based asylum propose to bring all the abused women in the world here either. Instead they are claiming a political, rather than a personal basis for the abuse in countries where male dominance and violence against women is institutionalized. I think it behooves anyone who feels strongly about this case one way or the other, to read the transcripts and get some background in asylum law. Perhaps in the end, those, like Mr. Murray, who are so outraged about the Alvarado case really believe that no asylum is justified, not even on any of the noncontroversial grounds such as membership in a political party, membership in a social group, race, ethnicity or religion. They may feel that we have enough problems of our own to take care of. But, that is not an option, because asylum law is here to stay, and it is up to the CIS and the courts to interpret it. I would hope that in a country with democratic ideals, we opt to safeguard the human rights of the truly persecuted, rather than damn everyone in order to prevent a few "freeloaders" from getting over. In the end most of the "freeloaders" have probably become great assets to this country.

SJD



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