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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

The Refugee Protection Act and the Material Support Bar

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This is part dieux in our series of posts about the Refugee Protection Act.  Today's topic is the "Material Support Bar," INA § 212(a)(3)(B)(iv)(VI), which states that an alien who commits an act that he "knows, or reasonably should know, affords material support" to a terrorist organization is inadmissible.  As written, the law makes no exception for instances where the alien has been coerced into providing support.  The RPA would change that.


About a year ago, I represented an elderly Iraqi Christian woman who had received threats from unknown people seeking to extort money.  The people threatened to murder her son.  As a result of the threats, and in order to save her son, the women gave money to the extortionists.  Given that these people were likely terrorists, the woman faced a bar to obtaining asylum in the U.S.  We relied on a USCIS memorandum, which allowed for limited exceptions to the material support bar in the case of duress, and the woman received asylum.  A pro se applicant might not have access to that memorandum, and might not be able to relate the relevant facts necessary to meet the exception to the material support bar.


The Refugee Protection Act creates an exception to the material support bar for people who have been coerced to provide material support to terrorists.  This would reduce or eliminate the problem of denying asylum to people who have been victimized by terrorists.

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