Wisam Yousif is an immigrant from Iraq who in 2007 applied for withholding of removal and asylum in the United States.
Withholding of removal is granted as relief from likely persecution in the applicant’s home country due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership with a particular social group. Yousif is a Chaldean Christian, and the Immigration Judge conceded in 2011 that conditions in Iraq were so turbulent at that point that withholding of removal should be granted. However, Yousif was not given asylum, because the IJ asserted that he had misrepresented himself in his application – Yousif claimed he had experienced past incidents of persecutions but there was no evidence to support these claims.
Yousif appealed this decision because he believed that his misrepresentations didn’t matter; withholding of removal and asylum go hand in hand and he was eligible for both based on his status as a Chaldean Christian alone. He also asserted that burden of proof is usually harder to obtain with withholding of removal than it is for asylum.
So, because the IJ didn’t determine whether or not he would have been eligible for asylum based solely on his religion, nor did they determine whether his claims of past persecution were material at the time of adjudication, Yousif’s petition has now been granted, and the previous decision vacated.
It’s important to note the small distinctions between asylum and withholding of removal, even though they are usually applied for together and often in conjunction with a third form of relief called “Protection Under Convention Against Torture”, which is protection in the United States under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Asylum is the “easiest” to get, because withholding of removal and protection under CAT require proof that it is more likely than not that you will face persecution in your home country, i.e. you must show clear probability with accompanying evidence (like country reports) that there would be danger for you if you returned home.
However, despite the added difficulty and more limited benefits, CAT and withholding are mandatory, meaning that if you qualify, you will be granted it, there is no debate.
If you are granted withholding of removal, you will no longer be removed to your country of origin (though you can be removed to a third country that has been deemed safe if there is reason for it), but unfortunately it does not make you automatically eligible for green card status, and you must maintain valid employment-authorization documents. If you or someone you know would like more information about withholding of removal, protection under CAT, or feel like you are eligible to apply for asylum, please get in touch with Daniela Lyttle at Lyttle Law Firm, either via the website or by calling 215-512-5225.