Political Opinion

One of the most common categories for asylum is based on one’s political opinion.  Being able to speak out and disagree with the government is one of America’s most important values, and it protects political refugees accordingly.  Unfortunately, many governments around the world do not respect this basic human right and persecute anyone that speaks out against them.  Our experienced political asylum attorneys have helped many people who have been persecuted simply because of their opinions.

U.S. asylum law defines political opinion very broadly, and for good reason.  Many forms of free speech are not normally considered political in nature but are still worth protecting.   In some countries where corruption is out of control, people who speak out against or expose such corruption have been granted asylum on political opinion grounds.   For example, a Ukrainian businessman was once granted asylum because he told high ranking government officials about local police corruption and was persecuted because of it.

In addition to political opinions, a person’s imputed political opinion is also a ground for asylum in the U.S.  In other words, if the government persecutes someone because they think that person has a political opinion, they can qualify for asylum even if they do not have that political opinion.  There are many instances when people from a certain family or a certain region of a country are considered to be politically opposed to the government and are persecuted simply because of the government’s belief that they have certain political opinions.  Whether the political opinion is real or imputed, it is necessary for an asylum applicant to show that the government believes that he or she possesses that political opinion.  The help of an experienced asylum attorney is especially important in this context.

China’s one child policy once presented a unique problem for U.S. asylum law, as victims of the policy did not neatly fit in any one category for asylum.  However, the U.S. government changed the law to make it clear that victims of the one child policy have been persecuted on account of their political opinion.  Any person who is forced to have an abortion or sterilization because of China’s one child policy is considered to have a political opinion for asylum purposes.  Furthermore, anyone who is persecuted for resisting the one child policy in any way is also considered to have a political opinion.

It is unclear whether or not being politically neutral can constitute a political opinion.  Generally, the government has said that it is not, but courts have often overruled them when a country is sharply divided and everyone is expected to take a side.  Usually in these cases, the country is in the middle of a civil war.

In some parts of Central America, gangs are more powerful than the government.  Many people have tried to claim that resisting these gangs is a political opinion, but they have so far been unsuccessful in being granted asylum.  There are many cases currently going through the courts that are trying to change that.

If you believe you have been persecuted on account of your political opinion, contact us today for a free consultation about your case..