February 09, 2009
On Wednesday, November 5, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Negusie v. Mukasey. The Supreme Court here considers the "persecution bar" of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, which prohibits the granting of asylum to (or withholding of removal of) a refugee who has participated in racial, religious, ethnic, social, or political persecution. The case concerns Daniel Girmai Negusie, an Eritrean man who was imprisoned and otherwise persecuted for his Ethiopian heritage and Christian religion in his native country before being forced to serve as a guard at the very same prison, where others were similarly persecuted. Having escaped to the United States, Negusie applied for asylum. Although an Immigration Judge found him to meet the relevant statutory criteria, the judge concluded he was ineligible for relief because his service as a prison guard constituted disqualifying partcipation in persecution. Negusie appealed, arguing that the "persecution bar" did not apply to him because he had been compelled to serve as a prison guard against his will, but both the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Fifth Circuit affirmed the original ruling. The Supreme Court now considers whether the "persecution bar" prohibits the granting of asylum to those who were compelled to engage in persecution by threats of death or torture. Morgan Lewis Partner Allyson Ho discusses the case.
Oral Argument - November 5, 2008: