How Membership in a ‘Particular Social Group’ May Be the Key to Your Successful Asylum Application

The effects of an unsuccessful asylum application can be catastrophic. It can mean being uprooted from your home and your family, being sent to a country you’ve never known as home, and possibly a place where you may find yourself to be a target for hate and violence. For these reasons and more, you must put forward the strongest asylum application possible. Statistics show that asylum applicants with attorney representation are six more likely to succeed than those without, so don’t delay retaining an experienced Maryland asylum lawyer to assist you.

Membership in any collection of people that U.S. immigration law recognizes as a “particular social group” can be essential to a successful asylum application. You can qualify for asylum if you are a member of one or more of these groups and you present proof that, if you are returned to your home country, you either (a) have a reasonable fear of harm or (b) a history of past harm as a result of your membership in the group.

To succeed on this basis, you need the right social group undergirding your application. Simply asserting, for example, “Honduran females” as your group will almost certainly be deemed too broad. An overly broad group will doom your application and leave you subject to deportation, as was the case with one California man recently.

C.H. was a Mexican citizen who had, for several years, lived in the Los Angeles area. In coming to the U.S., C.H. entered illegally and was eventually targeted for deportation. The man filed applications for cancelation of removal and asylum, but the immigration judge in his case denied the applications.

The man’s asylum application asserted that he was a member of a particular social group; namely, “Mexican males who spent a prolonged time in the United States and returned to Mexico.” Immigration authorities concluded that the applicant’s proposed social group was too broad, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals later upheld that conclusion, meaning that C.H. lost his case for asylum.

Stating a Sufficiently Narrow Social Group

The law says that, for a group to be recognized, it must be “(1) composed of members who share a common immutable characteristic, (2) defined with particularity, and (3) socially distinct within the society in question.”

These groups may be visibly recognizable, but they need not be. In the past, the immigration authorities have recognized groups such as gay men “with female sexual identities,” former members of the MS-13 gang, and domestic violence victims.

C.H.’s proposed group, though, was too broad. A group like the one the applicant proposed was less like the successful examples mentioned above and more like other broad, unsuccessful proposed groups such as “Mexicans returning to Mexico from the U.S. and who are believed to be wealthy” cast too wide a net to constitute a particular social group. Narrowing the group might have yielded a different result. If, for example, the applicant had asserted that he was from a very heavily Catholic part of Mexico but was a member of a religious minority, that narrower group might have been cognizable.

Having the right legal team on your side is crucial to success in applying for asylum. The knowledgeable Maryland asylum application attorneys at Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC have the skills and experience to give your asylum application the best chance of success. Contact us today at 301-519-2801 or via our online form to schedule your consultation.

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