There is a tragic story emerging out of Sudan that has drawn considerable attention to asylum laws in the U.S. A 27-year-old Christian woman is facing religious persecution in her predominately Muslim country. In Sudan, it is considered a crime punishable by death to leave Islam, also known as apostasy. There is some debate about whether the woman was actually raised as a Muslim, as her mother, who was a Christian, raised her after her father abandoned the family. Regardless of whether she actually committed apostasy or not, hers is a clear case of religious persecution.
The problem is, however, that she is still in the Sudan. If she were in the U.S., she would stand a strong chance of being granted asylum, but she remains jailed.
What makes her case truly unique is that there have been numerous legislators who have called on the Obama administration to do whatever it can to grant her asylum. What they may fail to recognize, however, is that asylum is not granted to individuals before they arrive in the U.S. While someone can receive refugee status prior to arriving in the U.S., asylum can only be granted to individuals within the country.
Moreover, even if the government was able to grant her asylum, the government would not be responsible for extracting her from a Sudanese prison and bringing her to the U.S. Her arrival in the U.S. can only happen if the Sudanese government allows for her release.
There is no denying that this woman is the subject of religious persecution and that her situation is dire, but it is also somewhat unclear what legislators expect the Obama administration to do.
Source: Fox News, "Lawmakers press Obama team on asylum for Sudanese mom sentenced to death," Lisa Daftari, May 23, 2014