Asylum Officer Training Materials On “Persecution” Released By The USCIS In Response To a Freedom Of Information Lawsuit


US-CIS recently released asylum officer training materials dealing with “persecution.” A 61-page Training Module, entitled “Definition of Persecution and Eligibility based on Past Persecution,” dated June 12, 2015, is available at the “FGM” page of the Louise Trauma Center.

The Training Module was released in settlement of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Catholic Charities of Washington DC. It is also available in the Electronic Reading Room of the US-CIS.

The materials are slightly inconsistent. For example, at page 18, it says “a minor beating” by a government may be persecution. However, at page 20 and page 58, cases and examples are given of applicants denied asylum after significant beatings.

“Psychological harm alone may rise to the level of persecution,” says page 23. A husband who suffered emotional harm resulting from the death of his wife, was deemed to have suffered past persecution, says page 26. However, also in the materials are many examples of applicants who suffered considerable emotional harm, but were denied asylum.

Rape “can constitute torture,” says page 25.

Comments of the author

The Second Circuit ruled that even a “minor beating” may rise to the level of persecution if it occurred in “the context of an arrest or detention on the basis of a protected ground.” Imran v. Boente, 2017 WL 466095, *2 (2d Cir. 2017).

But, the Eighth Circuit observed: “It is a well-established principle that minor beatings and brief detentions, even detentions lasting two or three days, do not amount to political persecution, even if government officials were motivated by political animus.” Eusebio v. Ashcroft, 361 F.3d 1088, 1091 (8th Cir. 2004). Accord: Nanic v. Lynch, 793 F.3d 945, 948 (8th Cir. 2015) and Mahu v. Holder, 502 Fed. Appx. 296, 299 (4th Cir. 2012).

About The Author

David L. Cleveland. David L. Cleveland, a staff attorney at Catholic Charities of Washington, DC, was Chair of the AILA Asylum Committee (2004-05) and has secured asylum or withholding for people from 46 countries.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.