The United States prides itself on providing opportunities for those with ambition. Immigrants have long pursued entry into the country as a way to improve their circumstances. Some people come to start a business or further their education. They seek opportunities they would not have elsewhere.
Others enter the United States to avoid persecution in their nation of origin. Living without fear of persecution can help people achieve goals that would otherwise be unrealistic. Widespread discrimination and abuse targeting certain groups occur in many countries. Individuals who fear persecution if they return to their country of origin can sometimes qualify for asylum.
Asylum allows those who would otherwise not qualify for immigration opportunities to remain in the United States for their safety. Defensive asylum specifically protects someone from removal from the United States because of their fear of what would happen when they return home. Who might qualify for defensive asylum in the United States?
Those at risk of persecution
Asylum is only an option for those who face persecution based on specific protected characteristics. According to the current policy upheld by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), asylum is an option for only certain people. Immigrants might face persecution due to religion, political opinions, nationality, race or membership in a certain social group. Someone who can show widespread persecution in their country of origin based on one of those characteristics could potentially qualify for defensive asylum.
Those facing removal from the country
Some immigrants are at risk of removal from the United States because they have already attempted to qualify for affirmative asylum. Those slated for removal due to a failed affirmative asylum application could apply for defensive asylum. Others facing removal may qualify as well. Those taken into custody at a port of entry due to a lack of legal documentation or technical immigration violations may qualify. Those facing removal for criminal activity or other serious concerns are less likely to qualify for defensive asylum.
The defensive asylum process is often the final option for someone at risk of removal from the United States. Immigrants often require legal support as they prepare paperwork for asylum requests and when they attend hearings. Learning more about different asylum options may benefit those afraid of returning to their country of origin because of persecution.