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Law School Case Brief

Ahmed v. Ashcroft - 341 F.3d 214 (3d Cir. 2003)


Though the Immigration and Nationality Act provides no definition of persecution, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has held that persecution connotes extreme behavior, including threats to life, confinement, torture, and economic restrictions so severe that they constitute a threat to life or freedom. This definition does not include all treatment that our society regards as unfair, unjust, or even unlawful or unconstitutional.


The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) admitted the alien, a stateless Palestinian born in Saudi Arabia, into the United States as a non-immigrant visitor for pleasure with permission to remain in the country until June 30, 1996. He remained beyond that date without authorization and the INS brought a deportation proceeding against him. The alien applied for asylum and withholding of deportation. The immigration judge concluded that the alien only showed that Palestinians living in Saudi Arabia were subject to discrimination but that such discrimination did not rise to the level of persecution and denied the application. On appeal, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) agreed. The alien filed a petition for review of the order.


Did the BIA err in denying the application for asylum and withholding of deportation?




The court denied the alien's petition for review. The court held that the BIA's decision was based on a reasonable interpretation of the definition of persecution under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Moreover, it appeared that the disadvantages the alien faced in Saudi Arabia applied not just to Palestinians but more broadly to all foreigners, who were also denied Saudi citizenship. Thus, the economic restrictions the alien described were not so severe as to constitute a threat to life or freedom amounting to persecution. Lastly, the court held that statelessness alone did not warrant asylum.

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