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More Mexican citizens seeking asylum due to drug violence

In 2010, more than 3,000 Mexican citizens sought political asylum in the United States, yet only 49 were successful. In 2011, the number of asylum seekers doubled to more than 6,000. However, once again only a small number of people -- 104 -- were granted asylum.

So why are U.S. immigration judges less likely to grant asylum to Mexican citizens as opposed to those from other countries such as Colombia, which saw a success rate of 40 percent in asylum cases last year?

In order to be awarded asylum in the United States, it is necessary to show that an individual is at risk from systemic violence, typically at the hands of the government. In the case of Mexican citizens this may be difficult. The reason? Even though violence in the country is widespread and continues to affect those living there, the violence is at the hands of drug gangs, not the Mexican government.

Aside from the fact that the violence comes at non-government hands, the answer may also have to do with the fear that lowering the standard for asylum will increase the likelihood that many illegal immigrants facing deportation will simply argue that they need to stay in the United States because of fear of drug violence.

More than fear, however, what is necessary in asylum cases is to demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution in a home country. Recent successful asylum applicants from Mexico have included journalists and peace activists who received multiple death threats. Most recently, an activist was granted asylum when several of his family members were killed.

Although difficult, with the help of an experienced attorney, it may be possible for foreign citizens to prove that they qualify for asylum and should remain here in the United States.

Source:, "Asylum cases from Mexico double in wake of drug violence," Adrian Florido, March 1, 2012

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