Trends in Asylum Law Affecting Torture Survivors

This webinar, from 5/16/2012, features Janet Beck of the University of Houston Law Center - Immigration Clinic.


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Wednesday, 16 May 2012



This Webinar provides an opportunity for staff of torture treatment programs to catch up on trends in asylum law and hear more about recent case law that may affect their clients.


  1. Participants will gain knowledge of recent case law regarding asylum issues relevant to torture survivors.
  2. Participants will gain knowledge of recent case law regarding mental impairment as it might affect asylum claims and psychological evaluations of their clients.
  3. Participants will have an opportunity for Q&A regarding trends and changes in immigration proceedings


Janet B. Beck, MSW, JD

Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Houston Law Center

Janet B. Beck has been Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1995 and has been practicing immigration law since 1987.  She is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Houston Law Center, supervising law students in the Immigration Clinic.   She also teaches a class in Immigration Law and Business at the Law Center.  Ms. Beck was the attorney on the Board of Immigration Appeals precedent decision Matter of M-A-M.  She is co-author of the American Immigration Council Practice Advisory “Representing Clients with Mental Competency Issues under Matter of M-A-M.” (Nov. 2011) Ms. Beck is also the author of an article on immigration issues published in the The Houston Lawyer (2009), the journal of the Houston Bar Association.  Ms. Beck received a B.A. from New York University, an M.S.W. from the University of Chicago and a J.D. from the University of Houston.  She has spoken at American Immigration Lawyer Association (AILA) national and chapter conferences, University of Texas immigration conferences, as well as at meetings of the Houston Bar Association and the Association of Women Attorneys-Houston.  She was also participating faculty at a conference of the Center for Survivors of Torture in July 2011.  She has been an AILA Section Chair and Vice-President of the Texas Chapter.  She was an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center and at Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University.  She has also been a guest lecturer at the University of Houston Graduate School of Social Work (UHGSSW) and is currently working with a student from the UHGSSW (and her LMSW supervisor) who is assisting UH Clinic clients in need of social services.  Prof. Beck served as a Peace Corps volunteer for 3 years in Colombia, South America and is fluent in Spanish.

Resources from the webinar:

Matter of M-A-M

Cases Cited in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Claims slide

  • USCIS RAIO Directorate- Officer Training, 12/28/2011
  • Yates memoranda: 4/16/2004 and 04/13/2012
  • Castro-Martinez v. Holder, 641 F.3d 1103 (9th Cir. 2011) (denied asylum to gay, HIV-positive Mexican man)
  • Lopez –Amador v. Holder, 649 F.3d 880 (8th Cir. 2011) (denied asylum to Venezuelan lesbian)
  • Ormondi v. Holder  (8th Cir. March 15, 2012) (remanded because transcript indiscernible but found IJ decision requiring corroboration was reasonable)

Cases Cited in Particular Social Group Slide

  • Crespin Valladares v. Holder  632 F.3d 117 (4th Cir. 2011): prosecutorial witnesses, as well as their family members who suffered persecution on account of their family ties, constitutes a PSG.
  • de Carvalho-Frois v. Holder,  C.A.  (1/26/12) AILA Doc. No. 12012763 (1st Cir.) The court found that the petitioner's social group of witnesses to a serious crime whom the government is unable or unwilling to protect is not sufficiently "socially visible" to establish a particular social group.
  • Garcia-Callejas v. Holder, 1/24/12, AILA Doc. No. 12012564 (1st Cir.) The court found that the petitioner, who argued he was a target of gang recruitment and a returnee to El Salvador who would be perceived as wealthy, did not establish membership in a particular social group.
  • Gaitan v. Holder, 3/1/12, No. 10-1724, AILA Doc. No. 12030270 (8th Cir.) Upheld social visibility and particularity to establish PSG and denied gang-based asylum claim.
  • Valdiviezo-Galdamez v. Holder, 663 F.3d 582 (3rd Cir. 2011)
  • Gatimi v. Holder, 578 F.3d 611, 615-16 (7th Cir. 2009) (criticizing the BIA's decisions in S-E-G- and E-A-G- for being "inconsistent" with the BIA's precedents in Acosta and Kasinga and for failing to explain the reasons for adopting the "social visibility" criterion)
  • Benitez Ramos v. Holder, 589 F.3d 426, 430-31 (7th Cir. 2009) (social visibility not a requirement)
  • Urbina-Mejia v. Holder, 597 F.3d 360, 365-67 (6th Cir. 2010) (noting being a former gang member is an immutable characteristic and defining former members of the 18th Street gang as a "particular social group" based on their inability to change their past and the ability of their persecutors to recognize them as former gang members)
  • Lizama v. Holder, 629 F.3d 440, 447 (4th Cir. 2011) (upholding the BIA's definition of a particular social group as requiring that "(1) its members share common immutable characteristics, (2) these common characteristics give members 'social visibility, and (3) the group is defined with "sufficient particularity to delimit its membership")
  • Ramos-Lopez v. Holder, 563 F.3d 855, 862 (9th Cir. 2009) (upholding the BIA's adoption of the "social visibility" requirement)
  • Scatambuli v. Holder, 558 F.3d 53, 60 (1st Cir. 2009) (rejecting petitioners' claims the BIA is precluded from considering the visibility of a group)
  • Fuentes-Hernandez v. Holder, 411 F. App'x 438, 438-39 (2d Cir. 2011) (requires social visibility and particularity)



asylum law

<p>Your Expert janet give pretty good advice for asylum seekers a &nbsp;i listen her advice very carefully and learnt why 90% of the asylum seekrs application were denied by immigration offices.Thanks for the wounderfull advice on <strong>asylum law</strong> and on its recent changes.&nbsp;</p>

Asylum law

<p>I am myself an <a href="">asylum immigration Lawyer</a> and i own a Law firm in Washington&nbsp;D.C and i must say Janet do provide some very usefull information for asylum seekers.&nbsp;As the land of the free, America has provided asylum immigration for a lot of persecuted people. And about one year after political asylum was granted, those people can apply for permanent residency in the U.S. with rights, privileges and duties in regards to the nation. Remember Asylum immigration is a very hard thing to obtain, and will generally be dangerous and uncomfortable, however it is that small chance of success that drives thousands to apply for it every year across the world.</p>

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