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Host a discussion: Case studies of asylum seekers

To help people develop an understanding of the range of reasons that asylum seekers request sanctuary in the U.S., you may host a discussion these case studies. Participants may wish to read these cases ahead of time, or the discussion facilitator may read the profiles one at a time.

Politically persecuted, detained and tortured

This case is for a man in his 30s from Cameroon. The client is seeking a physical and psychological evaluation. In Cameroon, he was arrested and detained on three occasions for his political opinion and association with the Southern Cameroons National Council and human rights activities. His reported physical scars include scars on his head, as well as on his legs and feet from beatings in detention. In addition, he has reported difficulty sleeping, nightmares, nervousness/anxiety, and headaches. He speaks English. The attorney is seeking a completed affidavit by December and will also be requesting oral testimony in January.

Subjected to FGC, forced into marriage, and abused

This case is for a woman in her 20s from Burkina Faso. The client is seeking a psychological evaluation. She is seeking asylum because she was subjected to FGC when she was 5 years old and still suffers from physical pain and emotional trauma from the procedure. When she was 20 she was forced into a marriage by her stepfather, during which she was systematically raped. She is now legally married in the US and has a baby, but fears that if she returns to Burkina Faso she will be forced to return to her marriage, where she will once again be raped. She also fears her daughter will have to undergo FGC.

Gay, HIV positive, and threatened

This case is for a man in his 40s from Jamaica. The client is seeking a psychological evaluation. In Jamaica, his life was threatened because of his sexual orientation and HIV positive status. He and his friends were attacked for being gay. He was forced to be closeted his entire life, and was also in an abusive relationship. His attorney also believes he suffers other non-obvious psychological issues, including extreme anxiety, shyness and panic attacks.

Fleeing domestic violence

This case is for a woman in her late 20s from El Salvador. The client is seeking a psychological evaluation. She has suffered extreme abuse by her common law husband and father of her two children. Since becoming pregnant with her first child, she was subjected to beatings and rapes. He threatened her and told her if she ever left him that he would kill her, also threatening to take away her children. He took one daughter from her and did not return her until the client agreed to go back to him. He was an alcoholic and a drug abuser and would hurt her often when he was drunk or high. The client fled to the US after he beat her one night in front of his friends. She left her children with her mother in El Salvador.

Seeking treatment and dignity

This case is for a woman in her 30s from Nepal. The client suffers from a rare and deadly skin disease, which renders her unable to tolerate sunlight. She suffers from chronic tumors, which are surgically removed on a monthly basis, resulting in massive scarring and the complete loss of her nose. As a result of cultural stigma associated with disability, she was denied schooling at an early age, and she and her siblings (also afflicted) were victims of ridicule and violence. Due to a lack of sophisticated medical care in Nepal, she has only received effective care in the U.S. She has lost one brother to depression, and fears she will fall victim to the same fate is she is returned to Nepal. She speaks Nepali and some Hindi.