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Deaf Mexican Asylum Applicants Are Winning Cases

September 30, 2015 (1 min read)

"Aranda, 58, is an undocumented immigrant living in San Diego. She’s one of hundreds of deaf immigrants from Mexico and other countries who have applied for asylum in the U.S. in the past few years. They argue that the treatment they received in their home countries—which also include Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Colombia—amounts to persecution, and that deaf people living there today are still being discriminated against. It’s a novel reasoning, legal experts say, but it appears to be working. Of the 250 deaf immigrants that California attorney Hadley Bajramovic has helped apply for asylum since 2010, four have won their case and none have been rejected. A fifth is pending final approval. (Cases generally stretch on for five years or even longer.) Since they’ve started winning, attorneys from around the country have been calling Bajramovic asking for help with their own deaf clients. ... But just being deaf isn’t enough to get asylum. Applicants have to show proof that they would be persecuted if the U.S. government deports them back to Mexico. Lots of corroborating evidence and grueling interviews are required. Historically, people applying for asylum have a less than 50% win rate, [Cornell law professor and LexisNexis expert author Stephen] Yale-Loehr said, so the success of the deaf immigrants so far is striking. “It’s sort of like granting asylum to gay and lesbians and other persecuted minorities,” Yale-Loehr said. “The mere fact that these people have gone through the asylum gauntlet successfully means that they were able to prove that they have a real fear of persecution.” " - Casey Tolan, Fusion, Sept. 28, 2015.

- Attorney Hadley Bajramovic