Others like me were harmed, but not me: Can I get asylum?

An asylum claim may be possible based on a pattern and practice of persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.

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Question

I am a Chinese citizen who practices Falun Gong alone in my apartment. I’ve never been caught and no one has reported me. Other Falun Gong members have been arrested and tortured, even killed. I want to stay in the United States and apply for asylum. Do I qualify?

Answer

Typically, an asylum applicant must prove to an Immigration Judge or Asylum Officer that he or she has either suffered persecution in the past or has a well-founded fear of future persecution. There are times when a person might flee his or her country because of harm that is happening to other people who are similar. In these cases, an asylum applicant can establish eligibility for asylum by proving that he or she is part of a group, and that there is a “pattern or practice of persecution” against that group on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion (see 8 CFR 208.13(b)(2)(iii)(A)).

If the Immigration Judge or Asylum Officer is applying this standard, you do not have to prove that you would be singled out for persecution or that a persecutor is inclined to persecute you.

To prove that there is a pattern or practice of persecution against Falun Gong practitioners, you should gather objective evidence showing that the Chinese government is persecuting members of the Falun Gong because it considers the group to be a religion or a political organization. Evidence can include newspaper articles, reports from various organizations, and the relevant part of the U.S. State Department Human Rights Reports. Submit copies of your evidence with your asylum application.

In addition to proving that Falun Gong is targeted in China on account of one of the five grounds mentioned above, you must convince an Immigration Judge or Asylum Officer that you identify with the group. To accomplish this, you must provide the judge or officer with credible evidence, including a detailed affidavit that you should submit with your asylum application. Explain why and how you became involved with the group. Detail how you practiced in China and whether you continue your practice in the United States. You should also explain the tenets of Falun Dafa.

You will be required to provide oral testimony before the judge (if you file your claim while in removal proceedings) or officer (if you file your claim with the immigration service). This testimony must be detailed, consistent with the application you submitted, and plausible. You might even be asked to demonstrate some of the exercises. You may also be asked to explain why, even though other members of Falun Gong have been targeted, you are afraid.

Consider consulting with an experienced immigration attorney to help you with this type of claim. If you decide to hire an attorney it’s a good idea for the lawyer to submit a brief explaining the theory of your asylum case.

by: , J.D., LL.M.

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