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Political Asylum generally requires someone to show that they suffered past persecution on one of the enumerated grounds (race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group), or that they will be harmed on account of one of those grounds in the future. Sometimes, they can show they suffered past persecution, but conditions have changed in some regard rendering their future harm unlikely on the same ground that they were harmed in the past. As an alternative, they can argue that they will suffer "other serious harm" if they have to go back, even if that harm is not on account of one of the enumerated grounds. See 8 CFR 1208.13(b)(1)(iii). In a case we won today, we were able to argue that a Honduran woman, small business owner, would face other serious harm in the form of serious violence against women in that country, as well as gang violence related to extortion attempts against small business owners. Even though the Judge wouldn't have been willing to argue either of those groups fall under the enumerated grounds, he did find that the likeihood of her suffering this other serious harm was so great that she should be granted asylum under this alternative regulation. The Board of Immigration Appeals issued a decision which holds that judges can look to the general conditions of the country that "could severely affect the applicant, such as civil strife and extreme economic deprivation," and can also look to the "potential for new physical or psychological harm that the applicant might suffer." Matter of L-S-, 25 I&N Dec. 705 (BIA 2012). This fairly open-ended inquiry is a great reprieve for those who have suffered past persecution, but for one reason or another may not be eligible for asylum otherwise. 

 

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