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Sample Affirmative Asylum Legal Memo 

Persecution on Account of Membership in a Particular Social Group

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 Membership in a Particular Social Group 
Ms. B suffered past persecution on account of her membership in a particular social group and has a well-founded fear of future persecution as a result. Ms. B suffered discrimination, harassment, threats, and assault throughout the time that she lived in Afghanistan because she was: (1) an outspoken women's rights advocate in Afghanistan who publicly opposed the Taliban; (2) a single women without mahram in Afghanistan; (3) a woman in Afghanistan who visibly did not practice Islam; (4) a woman in a public facing job in Afghanistan; and (5) a Hazara woman professor in Afghanistan. The particular social groups Ms. B is part of have immutable characteristics, are defined with particularity, and are socially distinct within Afghanistan. Matter of M-E-V-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 227 (BIA 2014). In addition, they cumulatively enhance her well-founded fear of persecution. 

As described above, Ms. B repeatedly suffered persecution in the form of harassment, withheld job opportunities which severely limited her ability to support herself, threats, and physical assault. Originally, she was able to get work at Kabul University because of a USAID program through which the US government sought educated women like herself, but once she sought a position that was not organized by the United States, in order to enhance her income enough to survive, it was much more difficult because she was Hazara and visibly did not adhere to Islamic practices, like mahram, dress codes and religious adherence. Once people started to fear that the Taliban would once again take over the country, her employers said they should replace her with a man because it was problematic to have her teaching. Being a Hazara woman professor caused Ms. B to be harassed and threatened repeatedly, including being assaulted by her own students, and being asked to prostitute herself to secure employment. Additionally, she faced more persecution because Ms. B proclaimed her belief in women’s rights through her social media and through her work as an interpreter for international journalists, and because she lived her life in a way that was contrary to the norm and the government’s requirements.  

The fact that Ms. B did not practice Islam was apparent through the way she dressed and due to her lack of mahram. Contrary to Islamic law in Afghanistan, Ms. B is a single woman without a husband or other male relative to escort her in public making it prohibited by law for her to even travel to and from the few job opportunities she had, as well as very unsafe. Her prior work as a professor was precarious because of the hatred other Afghans felt towards people of Hazara ethnicity. She was easily identifiable as being Hazara due to her physical characteristics and was uniquely visible in society because she held a public facing job in education and dressed in a style that did not conform to the Islamic standard in the country. Once the Taliban came to power, it was not safe for her to be in public at all.  In addition, her time working as an interpreter and location scout for international journalists in Kabul made her a known figure and put her in the category of women assisting journalists understood to be particularly at risk in Afghanistan.  [Exh. J] 

The mistreatment that she suffered increased dangerously with the change in government. In the short time between the Taliban takeover and Ms. B's escape, she was kicked out of her home, threatened within the context of her jobs, and received a threatening voicemail because her outspoken views in support of women's rights, non-conforming style of dress, and status as a publicly known single woman in opposition to the Taliban's laws. She no longer had a safe place to live after her landlord kicked her out because he did not want to continue to rent to any single woman or Hazara. He knew his own life would be threatened if he was known to associate with her.  Ms. B had to flee Afghanistan because she feared continued persecution that could worsen to unjustified arrest and imprisonment or even death. She has no family or friends left in Afghanistan. 

While in the process of fleeing, Ms. B spoke with internationally broadcast news station CNN about the dangerous situation she and other women like her face in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. Unbeknownst to her, during the interview, CNN gave Ms. B's full name and occupation and showed her unobscured face on air [Exh. B]. As a result, she became an identified person known to have fled the Taliban in Afghanistan and to have publicly spoken out against the Taliban in support of women's rights and on behalf of other women who work in education.  

If Ms. B is forced to return to Afghanistan, the existence of this interview will make it impossible for her to escape the notice and ubiquitous reach of the Taliban. Her public, active opposition to the Taliban will subject her to future persecution. Ms. B’s fear of future persecution is reasonable in light of the past persecution she endured, the Taliban's record of persecuting and killing women who do not conform to their laws, and the absence of any changed country conditions that may eliminate the basis for her fear. Matter of M-E-V-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 227 (BIA 2014). This office should should therefore exercise its discretion and grant Ms. B's petition for asylum. therefore exercise its discretion and grant Ms. B's petition for asylum. 
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