ecently, I discussed the defense of “cancellation of permanent residents.”  Today, I would like to discuss the defense of “asylum.”  

This is a very, very old defense in international law.  It is a way for immigrants or refugees to request protection in their new country.  According to the website “Wikipedia,” the idea of “asylum” originated in Ancient Greece and Rome… there were certain places in those ancient societies like temples, altars, sacred forests or groves, and statues of the gods, where slaves, debtors, and criminals could go for safety from persecution.  The word “asylum” itself has an ancient Greek origin.  

Wikipedia also indicates that the concept of asylum developed over the years into protection for many different kinds of people.  In Christian Europe (and other Christian societies throughout the world) protection was given to certain classes of people in the sanctuaries of churches.  

Eventually, this concept—that certain people deserved protection—evolved into the modern defense of “asylum” that an immigrant or refugee may request in immigration court.  Now, if a person comes to the United States (or many other countries) if that person has suffered persecution because of their race, religion, political opinion, or social group, that person may apply for asylum here in the United States.

A person does not have to be in immigration court to request asylum, although it is available as a defense in immigration court.  There are two different kinds of asylum: “defensive” asylum, which is used in immigration court, as a defense against deportation, and “affirmative” asylum, which a person may apply for as soon as they arrive in the United States.  

In fact, there is a one-year deadline under the law of the United States for applying for asylum.  If a person does not apply before one year either affirmatively or defensively, they may still be eligible for a different defense in immigration court called “withholding of removal,” but it is much harder to win a “withholding of removal” case than it is to win an “asylum” case.

The reason for this is simple: the law of the United States basically presumes that if a person arrives here and does not request asylum immediately, that the person is probably not coming to the United States for protection.  They are probably coming here for some other reason, for example, to be with family or to earn money.  

Thanks for reading!  I will continue to discuss asylum in more detail in the future