Asylum Project

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Since 2014, CAIR-Chicago has been actively involved in applying for asylum for its eligible clients. Due to the violence and repression and continued strife in many Muslim countries, there continues to be an increased number of Muslims seeking asylum in the United States, particularly from Middle Eastern countries. The Civil Rights Department currently has more than a dozen affirmative asylum applications pending before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The asylum clients (mostly from Syria and Egypt) include students, physicians, professors, and activists.

As part of the Asylum Project, in addition to preparing them for their interview, the Department also helps these clients file their applications for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and employment authorization documents (EAD cards). CAIR-Chicago has also assisted a number of immigrants seeking Legal Permanent Residency status (Green Cards) and grants of citizenship whose applications have been delayed in processing or have not been acted upon in a reasonable time.

CAIR-Chicago works with the U.S. Immigration Service administratively to determine where the application is in the process and what can be done to remove any remaining obstacles to its approval, and files suit against the government when necessary to obtain relief for clients.

Below is a selection of asylum cases we’ve worked on in the past.

 
 
 

Asylum Case List

 

Case 1

The client is an Algerian national who left for the United States in 2014. Because of his status as an Ibadi Muslim and Mozabite ethnic identity, he was the target of severe persecution in his home country by the Algerian government, opposing tribes, and the military. Throughout his childhood and adult life in Algeria, he was harassed, beaten, belittled by teachers, and at one point stabbed. Law enforcement refused to help him and he was denied employment opportunities. In 2014, the situation deteriorated as Mozabites became the target of ethnic cleansing by civilians and police, culminating in his home being burned down. In 2014, the client came to the United States to escape his country’s hazardous conditions. His application for asylum was granted in August 2017.

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Case 2

The client is a Syrian national and Sunni Muslim who was persecuted by the Alawite ethnic-religious minority that controlled Syria. Once the Syrian Revolution commenced in 2011, he expressed his support for democratic reform on social media using pseudonyms, while also providing materials to journalists who were covering the developing situation in Syria. However, his real identity was eventually exposed when one of his cousins was tortured and forced to confess, placing him in grave peril of arrest, torture, and eventually death. The client came to the United States in 2017, aware that he could not return to Syria in its current condition. His asylum petition was granted in August 2018, and he now resides in the U.S. with his family.

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Case 3

The individual, who prefers to remain anonymous, fled to the United States in 2013 after his life had been threatened multiple times by the Syrian army amid the chaos after April 2012. The applicant recalled the intimidation used against family and friends; his kidnapping and subsequent escape; and the death of various loved ones at the hands of civil unrest. Following intervention by CAIR-Chicago, the client was granted asylum status.

 

 

Case 4

The client is an Egyptian national who worked in Egypt and Kuwait as a registered nurse. As a member of the Egyptian Freedom and Justice Party, he did not support the military coup which installed current Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in power. The client participated in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011 and 2012, as well as making his political views very clear on social media. Unfortunately, his wife and children were consequently interrogated and had their home in Egypt ransacked by police officials looking for him, after which he realized it was too dangerous for him to return to his home country.

The client arrived in the United States through New York in September 2017, caring for a patient from the Kuwaiti hospital in which he worked. Knowing he is in danger because of his political opinions, he elected to remain in the United States, applying for asylum. Currently he lives in the U.S., where he continues to support his patient while awaiting a final decision on his asylum application.

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Case 5

The client hails from Libya, where he worked as a teacher at Sebha University. In 2011, the uprising to overthrow Muhammad Al Qaddafi took place. The Tebu, a political and tribal group, took advantage of the instability to take control of parts of Southern Libya. With this new power, the Tebu accessed the client’s name from his time working at the border. Because he previously performed six months of mandatory military service helping border patrol check for smuggling operations, he has been labeled an enemy of the Tebu, who controlled some of the smuggling operations.

As of 2011, the client has an active arrest warrant from the Tebu-controlled police. If he returns to Libya, it is likely he will be found by the Tebu at a checkpoint, arrested, imprisoned, and then killed.

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Case 6

Details of the caseThe client is a 28-year-old Egyptian native and Sunni Muslim. Inspired by the revolution of the Arab Spring, he became active in protests and civilian committees dedicated to promoting the well-being of local communities and advocating human rights, freedom, and democracy in the country. Because of his activities, he became known as a social activist, at the cost of becoming a target for the secret police who viewed his activities as a threat to the military regime. In 2013 while visiting the United States, one of his closest friends and the client’s own brother were arrested for student activism and participating in pro-democracy protests. Both remain in prison to this day. Following these arrests, the client knew that he could not return to Egypt or he would be faced with false charges, an indefinite prison term, and no real chance at due process. The client currently lives in the U.S. where he is happy that he can express his religious and political beliefs free of fear and persecution.

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Case 7

The client is a Syrian national currently seeking asylum in the United States. Starting in 2011, he began to develop anti-government opinions after the Syrian regime kidnapped and tortured a group of teens who graffitied anti-government messages on the walls of a local school. Prior to this he grew up being taught he was to never speak negatively of the President, the President’s family, or the government. After t his incident he began to realize that while he had lived in relative safety beforehand, he had never known much in the way of freedom. His feelings were solidified after a friend was arrested for protesting, he and his friends were threatened by administration police, and a government helicopter shot to kill citizens in his neighborhood. He escaped Syria through a scholarship to a University in the Central United States. However, he knows if he returns he will be conscripted into the military and be forced to play a role in the vast violence conducted by the Assad government against the Syrian people. He awaits a final decision on his asylum application as he continues his studies here.

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Case 8

Details of the caseThe client is a Syrian Sunni Muslim who grew up under the shadow of the Assad regime, forced to feign loyalty despite her family’s critical views of the regime. Because of her family’s connections with the former Syrian administration, as well as their historical economic and political influence in the region, they became targets of the regime. Pursuing a career in medicine, the client moved to Canada and then the United States, where she has become a vocal critic of the Assad regime, voicing her frustrations with the government, attending protests, and supporting humanitarian aid organizations. Now she is unable to return to Syria or she risks be branded a dissident. She currently practices medicine in the U.S. while awaiting the decision on her asylum application.

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Case 9

The client is a Syrian national who was forced out of school once the Syrian uprising began in 2012. A critic of the Assad regime in Syria, he and multiple members of his family began to regularly participate in pro-democracy marches. However, it came at a steep cost. One of brothers was arrested without cause and brutally tortured. A cousin was twice arrested before disappearing permanently. A second cousin was arrested merely because of their familial associations, and an uncle simply disappeared without a trace one day. Because they refused to remain silent, his family was threatened, and his apartment was ransacked by secret police. While his family was able to find safety in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the UAE, he had no such options since legally he could no longer enter Saudi Arabia under his father’s sponsorship. With no other options, he came to the United States seeking asylum in 2015. His application was granted in June 2019. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois

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Case 10

The client is a Roman Orthodox Christian hailing from Jordan. She was ostracized by her family for marrying a man of the Muslim faith, but also by her husband’s family for her refusal to convert. When her husband passed away, she faced further persecution from her late husband’s family who began to subject her to verbal, physical and emotional damage. Eventually, they made clear of their intent to take possession of her child while threatening her life. Fearing for her son’s safety, her own biological family refusing to help her, and vulnerable given the lack of legal safeguards in Jordan, she came to the United States to seek asylum. She has since been accused of kidnapping her own son in Jordan, and her in-laws have won a case in Jordanian family court which granted them custody of her son should she ever return. She is currently living with her son and lawfully working in the U.S.

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Case 12

Details of the caseThe client is a Sunni Muslim hailing from Giza, Egypt. In the early 2000’s, he began to attend local community meetings with journalists to discuss social justice issues in Egypt. Inspired by his compatriots, he began to volunteer for political campaigns and as a poll watcher. However, because of his volunteer activism, he was detained and held by security officers for nearly a week, where he was brutally beaten. Despite this, he continued his political activism though he would be periodically harassed by security forces. However, in 2013 his political party was deemed a terrorist organization and he was forced to flee or face imprisonment, torture, and death. The client was able to reunite with his family in the U.S., where he currently resides while he awaits a final determination on his asylum application.

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Case 13

The client is a Syrian national who came to the United States seeking asylum on the grounds of political opinion, race, religion, and nationality. Her parents were targeted for persecution by the Assad regime for their personal associations and for accusations that they were medically treating and aiding political enemies. The client herself came under threat when she participated in political protests with other girls from her school, some of whom were later arrested in front her in her classroom. This incident taught her that she could not be safe in Syria, which she eventually left to study at a college in the U.S. Now she cannot return to Syria, given its current state of war and the fact that she would be targeted as a political dissident.

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Case 14

The client is a Syrian national who spent most of his formative years in the UAE. As a child, he was forbidden by his parents from publicly criticizing the Syrian regime. Privately, his family stood against the Assad regime, and many were victimized and forced to leave Syria over the decades. Unable to remain silent, he protested the regime while studying in Egypt, protested in person, and went so far as to provide humanitarian medical relief to members of the Free Syrian Army and civilians injured in conflicts. The client was forced to leave Syria in 2013 for the sake of classes in Egypt, but he has been unable to return since. He knows because of his family’s history and his own actions, he cannot return or else he faces certain imprisonment and torture, and possibly death.

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