Brian Soucek


In an article appearing in this journal in 2008, Fatma E. Marouf identified a worrisome development in asylum law: refugees persecuted because of their membership in a "particular social group"-one of the five grounds for asylum in the United States -must now show that their group is "socially visible" in the country from which they fled. For the past five years, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and the federal courts have increasingly relied on this social visibility criterion to deny asylum claims. Groups deemed insufficiently visible range from youth who resist gangs, to whistle blowers, to women who have children outside of wedlock.s Meanwhile, calls to abolish the requirement have grown louder. In the past several months, advocates have sought to challenge social visibility through legislation, executive action, and judicial intervention. This Comment argues that those attempts have been misguided; social visibility only needs to be properly understood, not discarded.

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