What is Persecution?
By Andy Gene Strickland
Immigration Attorney Andy Gene Strickland discusses examples of persecution and what it means to be persecuted. Persecution is an often misunderstood word. However, for purposes of US immigration law in in asylum context we will discuss it’s legal definition.
The International Criminal Court defines persecution as “the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity” (Art. 7.2.g of ICC Statute). According to Andy Gene Strickland, persecution is a broad term and it is not defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act or the Code of Federal Regulations.
Therefore, immigration attorney Andy Gene Strickland asks that we look to case law and persuasive resources in order to help determine if someone has been persecuted for purposes of qualifying as a refugee. Matter of Kasinga, Int. Dec. 3278 (BIA 1992) states: “While a number of descriptions of persecution have been formulated in our past decisions, we have recognized that persecution can consist of the infliction of harm or suffering by a government, or persons a government is unwilling or unable to control, to overcome a characteristic of the victim.”
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status (hereinafter handbook), page 51 states:
“There is no universally accepted definition of “persecution,” and various attempts to formulate such a definition have met with little success…[I]t may be inferred that a threat to life or freedom on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group is always persecution. Other serious violations of human rights– for the same reasons- would also constitute persecution.”
Immigration Attorney Andy Gene Strickland discusses a number of cases that help us define what persecution is. In, Montoya-Ulloa v. INS , 79 F.3d 930 the court held that “persecution means a threat to the life or freedom of, or the infliction of suffering or harm upon those who differ in a way regarded as offensive.”
“Persecution covers a range of acts and harms,” and “[t]he determination that actions rise to the level of persecution is very fact-dependent.” (See Cordon-Garcia v. INS, 204 F.3d 985, 991 (9th Cir. 2000). On the other hand, the Seventh Circuit has noted that, “actions must rise above the level of mere ‘harassment’ to constitute persecution.” (See Tamas-Mercea v. Reno, 222 F.3d 417, 424 (7th Cir. 2000).) And the First Circuit added that the experience “must rise above unpleasantness, harassment and even basic suffering.” (See Nelson v. INS, 232 F.3d 258, 263 (1st Cir. 2000).) Persecution can definitely include harms that aren’t physical, or immediate threats to one’s life or freedom. (See INS v. Stevic, 467 U.S. 407 (1984); Surita v. INS, 95 F.3d 814 (9th Cir. 1996).
Therefore, based upon these predicate definitions and examples of persecution Andy Gene Strickland asks the following questions:
- Are you being persecuted if the media in your county is controlled by a limited group of wealthy people and they all print and say the same talking points, while preventing your voice from being heard?
- Are you being persecuted if your government prohibits you from having an internet site or restricts what information you receive? What if the government allows private companies to restrict your sources of information and dissemination of it?
- Are you being persecuted if the government enforces the law against you more harshly and more often than it does with someone the government favors?
- Are you being persecuted if the government fails to protect your rights under it’s legal code from private citizens who are destroying your home and your places of work and worship?
- Are you being persecuted if your government allows people to settle into your area with the intent of weakening your political power and voice and turning you into racial and ethnic minority?
- Are you being persecuted if your cultural memorials and holidays are being removed from celebration and memorials to your ancestors are being removed or ruined?
- Are you being persecuted if there is one language and set of rules for you, yet a different language and more lenient set of rules for others?
- Are you being persecuted if the news media in your country fails to properly identify the perpetrators of criminal conduct against your people while claiming you to be an aggressor?
- Are you being persecuted if other less qualified people get job preferences over you?
- Are you being persecuted if the nation, culture, history, and institutions created by your ancestors are being cancelled, defamed, destroyed and perverted at your expense?
Immigration Attorney Andy Gene Strickland respectfully submits that if you can answer yes to any of the above, then you might be a victim of persecution! Please check out this article: