This week, we received a Denial Notice for a Syrian asylum applicant. The applicant filed his asylum application all the way back in 2014 and did not receive his final answer until June 10 of this year. The officer denied his application because they found that his experience did not rise to the level of persecution and that he did not have a well-founded fear of persecution.
Our supervising attorney decided to file a Motion to Reconsider. This is fairly self-explanatory. It is a motion for the asylum office to review the case and reconsider the decision because the law was not applied correctly. Our task was to find caselaw supporting the petitioner's case.
This task was incredibly difficult. Being in the 11th Circuit, most of the asylum decisions are unfavorable toward the applicant. For this case specifically, the harm the applicant had suffered was that he received threats from his co-workers and was on the Syrian government's dissident list. The majority of the cases involving threats held that persecution required more than just harassment or threats. In cases where asylum was granted, the applicant had been physically abused or imprisoned. Because our client only received threats, his claim likely was not strong enough to establish past persecution.
Because our supervising attorney is Syrian, she understood the gravity and severity of the threats the client received in the Syrian cultural context. However, relaying this context to the asylum officer presented an almost impossible task.
We spent a total of three days working on the Motion to Reconsider. Between four people and countless hours of work and research, we submitted it yesterday. When I asked when we would receive a response, our paralegal told me it could be in a month or it could be after I passed the bar exam. So, again, we wait and hope that the asylum officer reviewing the motion will actually take time to read the whole motion. We will hope that our research had a purpose and that we will one day be able to give our client a favorable response instead of the typical denial.