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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

Pity the Persecutors

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Passover is the holiday where we remember the Jews' exodus from slavery in Egypt. As we all know, it didn't end well for the Egyptians, what with the 10 plagues (including death of the first born - oy vey!), and then the business about drowning in the Red Sea.

The Passover Seder is the meal where we re-tell the story of the Exodus. At the Seder, we dip our finger (or a spoon for the germ-o-phobes among us) into *our wine 10 times, and remove one drop each time. This reminds us that the joy of our liberation is diminished by the suffering of the Egyptians.


Don't you Jews eat any other part of the Matzah?


I often think about how the source countries for my clients are affected by my clients' departure. Many of my clients are well educated and talented people. They are exactly the type of people the source countries need in order to improve. The only problem is that such people are often targeted by fascist regimes (like the Syrian government) or extremists movements (like the Taliban).

Some would argue that people like my clients should stay in their countries and work (or fight) for change. That is easy to say for people who do not live in such places, and who do not face threats to themselves and their family members. Many of my clients did, in fact, work for change in their countries before they left. For example, I am about to file the case of an Afghan man who worked for various NGOs helping children and women. After receiving many threats, he was brutally attacked with a knife (necessitating numerous surgeries), and finally fled for his life. His case is in some ways typical of my clients. They continue their good work in the face of death threats, but at some point, they feel compelled to leave. International humanitarian law exists to help such people, and my feeling is that each person needs to make his own decision about whether to stay or go (the*Washington Post*recently ran a depressing photo essay about this choice in the context of Syria).

One thing that seems obvious is that when such people leave, their home countries are diminished. While I can't say I pity the persecutors, I do feel bad that good people-people who could make a difference in their home countries-are forced to leave. This harms the people who are left behind and helps create a vicious cycle: Conditions are bad, so good people leave, and then conditions get worse, so more good people leave.

My one hope, which I see with my clients, is that they often remain engaged trying to help their homelands. Many of my clients are journalists and human rights activists. They can continue to support change in their home countries (by working for the media, for human rights organizations or for the U.S. government), while living safely in the United States.

So as we celebrate Passover, I am thankful for freedom and safety. But I will also try to remain cognizant of those who are left behind.

Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.

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Updated 07-16-2013 at 01:26 PM by JDzubow

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