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Tips for defensive asylum cases

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2024 | Immigration And Naturalization

Unlike affirmative asylum, where the hopeful immigrant takes a proactive approach through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), “defensive” asylum is a direct response to the threat of deportation. 

Typically, this means going up against a daunting and complex process before an immigration judge, with the USCIS acting as your adversary in the case. If you lose your case, you will likely face deportation, so it’s important to position yourself carefully. 

1. Be ready to make an explanation

After you receive a Notice to Appear (NTA), you will be given a calendar date for a Master Calendar hearing. During this initial court appearance, you will hear the charges against you. 

The judge will ask you questions to determine the basic facts of your case, including why you are afraid to return to your homeland. Give the judge a concise, clear explanation – along with any explanation of why you believe that you should be permitted to stay in the United States.

2. Gather your documentation

You will eventually have a “Merits” hearing, which is when you will be able to fully present your case – and when the USCIS will present theirs against you. Before you reach this point, gather as much evidence in support of your goal as possible. This can include:

  • Thinking through your personal testimony regarding your fears of persecution
  • Putting together evidence of past persecution or threats that you’ve faced
  • Looking for witnesses who can support your position
  • Tracking news or government reports that speak to the conditions in your homeland and your fears

Ultimately, this process can be very stressful and complicated, but consistency and credibility are key. During the time between when you receive the NTA and your initial hearing, it is wisest to seek legal guidance so that you can adequately prepare your defense. An effective asylum strategy takes time to develop.