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Sample Affirmative Asylum Legal Memo 

Persecution on Account of Political Opinion

The Sample Affirmative Asylum Legal Memo from Refugee Projects might be submitted at the affirmative stage to the asylum office. The facts are integrated within the legal arguments, rather than set out in a separate section. The supporting documents are referenced for the content they prove. There is less legal argumentation than in a full brief filed before the immigration court, and there is less case law cited. The focus is on stating the relevant facts, organized around how they support each claim of the legal theory.



Persecution on Account of Political Opinion 
Ms. H faced pers
ecution on account of her political opinion and has a well-founded fear of future persecution as a result. Ms. H has publicly opposed the Taliban on many occasions. Ms. H has expressed her opposition to the Taliban through her social media posts, on live international broadcasts, and speaking at meetings that were covered by the media. [Exh. B]. Additionally, because the Islamic religion is part of the law in Afghanistan, not being a practicing Muslim is considered anti-government and has caused those in power to impute anti-Islamic, anti-government, and anti-Taliban political opinions to Ms. H. Gao v. Gonzales, 424 F.3d 122 (2d Cir. 2005).  She is still asked to speak on international media outlets, as a known women’s rights activist. 

On August 15, 2021, when the Taliban seized Kabul, Ms. H was harassed on the way home from work, being told that people like her could no longer go out. Ms. H received a threatening voicemail saying that the Taliban required that she go back to work at Kabul University so the Taliban could support the false perception that women would be treated well under their new rule and was warned that if she was not appropriately dressed, she would be “cut into pieces and thrown away." The next day, Ms. H wore a burqa for the first time and went to the university even though she was terrified, because she did not want to provoke the Taliban further. Once she got to work, her boss sent her home because he told her it was not safe for her there. The next day, the university formally fired all female professors. 

As she was trying to find a way out of Kabul, Ms. H was asked to do an interview for CNN, to which she agreed because she is an active women’s rights defender. On air, broadcast locally and internationally to millions, Ms. H described the dire situation for women in Kabul, explaining that in her opinion the new Taliban would be the same as the old Taliban, and women, especially women’s rights advocates, would be killed. Although she had asked to not be named and not have her face shown, CNN did both [Exh. B, transcript of the CNN broadcast interview and screen shot of her on air, with her name and face shown]. Ms. H left her apartment and went into hiding and was contacted a few days later through a former flat mate who said that Spanish media had asked Ms. H to speak to them, as well.  She did because she thought it was important to let the world know what was happening to women in Afghanistan. Although she asked for her identity to be kept secret, her name was once again published on the ticker below her live image, the same as CNN had done. As a result, Ms. H received public attention for her open statements against the Taliban.  Her landlord kicked her out and she struggled to find a place to stay while she tried to escape from Afghanistan.  She was able to stay for one night at a house abandoned by someone who had already fled, but after she was on the streets for four days, seeking to leave Afghanistan.   She reasonably believed that she would not survive had she been turned back from the airport, and that, she would in fact have been killed returning to Kabul. 

Ms. H faced severe past persecution on account of her political opinion and was publicly identified as a person opposed to the Taliban. Matter of Chen, 20 I&N Dec. 16. She is known to the Taliban as a person who has publicly and internationally opposed and called out their rule and treatment of women and Hazara people.  Even after arriving in the United States, Ms. H continues to receive strange and threatening phone calls and has offered the phone numbers to the US government as they tried to track down Taliban infiltrating evacuation listservs. As a consequence, she has a well-founded fear of future persecution if she is forced to return to Afghanistan.  Osorio v. I.N.S., 18 F.3d 1017 (2d Cir. 1994). 
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