Asylum Case Summary

S. came to the United States over twelve years ago as the fiance of a U.S. citizen of Lebanese decent. While the marriage was arranged pursuant to the customs of his native country, Lebanon, the purpose of the marriage was to save S.'s life by getting him out of Lebanon. Leaving Lebanon was a matter of life or death for S. as the Syrian occupation government persecuted him because he was an active, albeit rank-and-file, member of a Christian political party that opposed Syria's quarter-century long occupation of Lebanon. Members of these occupation groups worked clandestinely and in open warfare against the Syrian forces and were harassed, abused, detained, tortured, disappeared and killed because of their political beliefs and actions. On account of his role as a messenger and spy, in the early 1990s S. was arrested at his family's home and, while his family watched, beaten and stuffed into the trunk of the car. He was brought to a local Syrian intelligence office where he was tied up, interrogated, subject to death threats, and beaten. He spent a night in a urine and feces filled room that was too small for him to lay his body down or sit. Unlike countless others who were disappeared or killed, S. was picked up by his father the next morning and brought home.

After this incident of torture, S. remained in Lebanon for a short period of time before relocating to a neighboring country to work on a temporary basis. He was unable to stay in that country once the temporary work project ended, so he returned to Lebanon. At that time, his family arranged the marriage so that S. could flee Lebanon. When S. arrived in the U.S., he did not marry his fiancee. At that time, while he most likely could have won asylum, he did not apply for such protection. For a few years, he took no steps to legalize his status in the US, which later created additional legal hurdles for him to overcome. Nonetheless, during his time in the US, he established a steady work history, became a beloved member of his community, and now co-owns a small business. In 2008, he formally applied for asylum. In order to explain to the Immigration Court the effects of persecution on his physical and mental health and the reasons for his decade-long delay in applying for asylum, S. sought the assistance of Physicians for Human Rights. PHR devoted three doctors to his case, each of whom met with him, evaluated him, wrote evaluations for the court, and testified at his immigration court hearing in January 2009. On top of the excellent testimony by PHR doctors, a state representative, priest, fire chief, and university professor attended the all-day court hearing, and made themselves available to testify to the court about S.'s exemplary character. Finally in February 2009, after so many years without authorization to legally work or travel, without medical insurance and all the while with the stress of knowing that at any time he could be arrested because he lacked immigration status, S. was granted asylum by an immigration judge. He will be eligible to obtain permanent residency (aka a "green card") in one year, and five years later, U.S. citizenship.