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CLE - Advanced Topics in Asylum Law: Standards and Recent Trends for Particular Social Group

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Boston Bar Association - 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA


Wednesday, October 20, 2010
4:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Click HERE for a printable registration form.

Sponsored by: Immigration Law Section, Family Law Section, New Lawyers Section

The Board of Immigration Appeals has defined particular social group as a group that shares “a common, immutable characteristic. The shared characteristic might be an innate one such as sex, color, or kinship ties, or in some circumstances it might be a shared past experience such as former military leadership or land ownership . . . [I]t must be one that the members of the group either cannot change, or should not be required to change because it is fundamental to their individual identities or consciences.” Matter of Acosta, 19 I&N Dec. 211 (BIA 1985). 

The case law that has developed around the question of what actually constitutes a “particular social group” for asylum purposes, as the definition suggests, is complex, varied, and largely driven by the specific facts of a given case. Determinations of whether or not the social group, as defined by the asylum applicant, exists frequently turn on its recognizability or social visibility. Some emerging trends in the law are attempts to use the concept of social group to establish a basis for asylum in the areas of persecution based on gender or sexual orientation, domestic violence as persecution, and persecution based on refusal to participate in gang activities. 

After this seminar, attendees will know more about defining membership in a particular social group, determining when membership in a particular social group can be the basis for a claim to asylum and knowing how to present such a claim to adjudicators in a compelling way.

Program Agenda:

I.   Basics of Asylum Law
II.  Advanced Topics: Particular Social Group
III. Practice Tips Panel with practitioners, members of academia and EOIR
            a) Particular Social Group Standard:  What is the standard to claim a “particular social group” and what does the government look for in such a claim?
            b) Recent Trends in Particular Social Group:  Experts will discuss recent trends in gender-based asylum claims, including claims by victims of domestic  violence and female genital mutilation, and in asylum claims based on gang violence and retaliation.
IV. Q&A Session for additional questions and discussion.


The Honorable Eliza C. Klein
Boston Immigration Court, Executive Office for Immigration Review

Deborah Anker, Esq.
Clinical Professor of Law and Director of Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program at Harvard Law School

Mary Holper, Esq.
Associate Professor of Law, and Director of Immigration Law Clinic at Roger Williams University School of Law

David K. McHaffey, Esq.
Partner at Barker, Epstein & Loscocco, P.C.

Ilana Greenstein, Esq.
Associate Attorney at Kaplan, O’Sullivan & Friedman, LLP

Program Co-chairs:

Gina M. Gebhart, Esq.
Ropes & Gray LLP

Marianne Staniunas, Esq.
Ross Silverman LLP

Sponsoring Section/Committee(s):



Katherine Elmore


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