A headline in the news Colum of Al Jazeera runs-On the evening of January 10, a suicide bomber targeted a snooker club frequented by Hazaras in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan. The initial blast killed several people, but, ten minutes later, as people rushed to the aid of those wounded in the attack, a car bomb exploded just outside the club, killing dozens more. When the dust settled, 96 people, mostly Hazara Shias, were dead.
The attack on the Hazaras an ethnic group, is a perhaps a small part of the ongoing religious persecution of Shia Muslims based in Pakistan. Till date there have been recurring incidents including deaths of people belonging to this community leading to panic amongst many in the community leading to them fleeing their own country and seeking asylum outside.
Thousands of Hazara’s and the larger group of Shia Muslims have been either threatened or been killed as a victim of sectarian militants. Recent reports of Australian help for 2,500 Hazara families have been proven to be false, which only raises the question about whether these people will be seeking asylum in the United States and if so, what will be their fate.
A young man poses a question on an online forum, asking guidance. His question is similar to what many people are asking-‘Shias are being brutally killed all over Pakistan. I too have received telephonic death threats from unknown sources. I have lost friends due to sectarian violence and many have been physically attacked for no reason other than their religion. I fear for my family and future. I am currently on visit to the US, what are my chances of succeeding as an asylum in USA?’
According to the U.S. law, an Asylum is granted to those aliens who can establish that they have a well-founded fear of persecution, if they return to their native land. In such circumstances, if they are forced to return to the country of their citizenship, they are afraid that they will be tortured or persecuted and would prefer staying on in the United States as an Asylee. The US laws regarding this state that the persecution that is being feared by the immigrant must be on account of religion, nationality, political opinion, race, or membership in a particular social group.
The chances of obtaining an asylum in the US depends on factors such as how long you have been in the United States, the ability to present and document your case in such a way that the immigration authorities are convinced of the gravity of the situation, etc. It must be noted here that the rules of an Asylum dictate that the petition to Asylum must be filed within a year of arriving in the US. You must file your application within a year of your arrival. There are of course some exceptions to the filing deadline, but this is better avoided especially if there are cases where there is a long list of Asylum cases from the same countries.
According to recent data, the U.S. received 17% of the world’s 441,000 requests for international protection in terms of Asylum seekers. Further reports suggest that as a country, Pakistan produced over 18,000 asylum-seekers in 2011, a 66% increase over 2010 and the highest number on record. The ‘Business Recorder’, reports that ‘According to a UNHCR report, an increasing number of Pakistanis are seeking asylum in other countries. As many as 39,982 persons had taken shelter in other countries, said the report. Of these 20,017 applied for asylum.’
The chances of success in getting an asylum depend largely on what has occurred with you in the past, and how you present the same in your petition for Asylum. It must be understood here that the preparation that goes on to build your case, is of crucial importance. Also considering the fact that extremist groups have been targeting the Shia Muslims in Pakistan, there is bound to be a rise in Shia Muslims from Pakistan who will be seeking Asylum in the United States.
Also if you have already applied for Asylum but not got any response so far or fear deportation, you can opt for reopening the case in view of changed circumstances in the native country. Under normally circumstances, the deadline to file a motion to reopen is ninety days after a person receives orders of deportation. A motion to ‘reopen’ seeking to apply for Asylum can be filed at any time if you can prove that the motion has been based because of ‘changed country conditions’, which were not applicable before.
It must be understood that Asylum is a complex domain of immigration law and you need to be very careful in presenting your case. Irrespective of the fact that you may have facts that are favorable to seek Asylum but if these facts are poorly presented, it can totally ruin your case.
An experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney can make all the difference to you Asylum petition. Great care needs to go into filing and preparing, your asylum claim to the U.S. Government. I encourage you to speak with an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible. This will maximize your chances and make your case highlighted amongst a host of other.
In this regard, you might want to seek counsel from experienced immigrant attorney, Shah Peerally of the Shah Peerally Law Group for advice regarding filing for an Asylum petition. You could call them at (510) 742-5887 or email at [email protected]