Sometimes foreign nationals seek admission into the United States in effort to escape persecution by their government or by another oppressive group in their home country. This is known as seeking asylum.
Under United States immigration law, anyone with refugee status is allowed to apply for admission, but the process can be very complex and difficult. Asylum can be especially hard to secure for people fleeing from drug cartel-related violence in Mexico, which we have written about in the past.
In fact, statistics show that only a small number of requests for asylum made by Mexican nationals are granted. This is likely because to achieve asylum, a person must prove that there is a legitimate fear of persecution because of the person's race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group, which is hard for someone facing gang or drug violence to prove.
However, recently it was reported that a second Mexican journalist was granted political asylum in the United States after being kidnapped by a drug cartel in Northern Mexico. The cameraman was one of four journalists held at ransom by the cartel in effort to force news organizations to air the cartel's message.
An attorney for the cameraman said that his client was granted asylum in Texas after it was shown the Mexican authorities were not keeping him safe after they told him they were taking him to meet with the country's president, but instead he was taken in front of national and international media at an airport.
Another Mexican journalist was granted asylum by a Texas judge in September after the journalist had fled the country because of a death threat he had received.
Reuters reported that a record number of Mexicans applied for asylum last year, which was a rise of more than a third from 2006. As drug and gang violence continues to rage on in parts of Mexico, this will remain an important topic within immigration law.
Source: Reuters, "Second Mexican journalist wins U.S. asylum bid," Aug. 30, 2011.