By: Joseph G. Cella, Esq.
On October 3 , 2014, the USCIS Political Asylum United granted a Syrian woman’s request for political asylum in the United States on the basis of her Christian identity and political beliefs. To be granted political asylum in the United States, an individual must establish that he or she has a reasonable fear of persecution in his/her own country on the basis of race, religion, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, and/or nationality. Moreover the feared persecution can be by the government or by a group or groups that the government can not or will not control.
In this case, “ZM”, a twenty seven-year-old pharmacy student, fled Syria in August 2013 after having she and other Christians were kidnapped from a bus and threatened with death by Islamic rebels. She was held in a secret location for ten days, during which time she was starved and repeatedly beaten while being interrogated as to everything from the details of every contact in her cell phone, to her political views. Ultimately, ZM was blindfolded, loaded into a van and driven to some unknown location where she was dumped on the side of the road. Prior to that, her family’s house and car had been destroyed also on the basis of their Christian identity.
After her release, ZM left Syria for the United States where she was reunited with other family members who had also fled Syria.
Having been granted political asylum, ZM will receive permission to work in the United States, and in one year she will be eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status. She will receive her “green card” about four months later.