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Venezuelans Fleeing: Are You Eligible for US Asylum?

By: Fergus Hodgson - @FergHodgson - Mar 12, 2014, 2:22 pm

EspañolGiven the worsening mess that Venezuela has become, the American Immigration Lawyers Association has a concise new video out to explain the prospect of asylum for those seeking to expatriate to the United States.

Dree Collopy, a partner with Benach Ragland LLP, understands the severity of the situation, but she notes that there is still no special provision for Venezuelans. Despite calls from legislators, federal officials have yet to apply either unique asylum options or a moratorium on deportations back to Venezuela.

Most important, “even by leaving a country due to political unrest, no matter how tumultuous it is, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be granted asylum or protection here in the United States.” The same goes for people already here who would rather stay.

To qualify for asylum via the conventional route, an individual must demonstrate that he is unwilling and unable to return to his country of residence on account of either past persecution or the credible threat of future persecution. By persecution it must be some kind of severe harm, more than simply harassment, from a government entity or a group that the government is unwilling and unable to control.

The individual or individuals instigating the persecution must also have one of the following five motives: race, religion, membership in a social group, nationality, and political opinion. The burden of proof for this connection is then on the applicant.

Collopy wants people to know that the process is difficult, and that they should not attempt it unless they genuinely meet the criteria. She recommends “competent representation,” since rejection could bring negative ramifications, such as a hastened deportation.

Fergus Hodgson Fergus Hodgson

Fergus Hodgson was the founding editor in chief of the PanAm Post, up until January 2016, and he now studies finance at Tulane University in Louisiana and Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala. Originally from New Zealand, he has also lived in Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Ireland, and the United States. Follow @FergHodgson and his Facebook page.