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Social Group Asylum Claims: A Second Look at the New Visibility Requirement

9 Pages Posted: 2 May 2012  

Brian Soucek

University of California, Davis - School of Law

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

The “social visibility” now required of members of “particular social groups” seeking asylum has led to a deepening circuit split, en banc consideration by the Ninth Circuit, and proposed legislation in Congress. This Comment identifies the root of the controversy: slippage in administrative and appellate opinions between the cognitive and sensory meanings of terms used to define social visibility — words like “recognize,” “see,” identify,” and “perceive.” Understood properly — which is to say, cognitively — social visibility refers to the way a society thinks of itself as being carved up into certain groups. The social visibility requirement, thus understood, becomes a check on ad hoc or invented group definitions, not a requirement that group members look a certain way. Those working to overturn the new social visibility requirement in asylum law would do better to help courts properly understand it.

Suggested Citation

Soucek, Brian, Social Group Asylum Claims: A Second Look at the New Visibility Requirement (2010). Yale Law & Policy Review, Vol. 29, No. 1, p. 337, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2050074

Brian Soucek (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - School of Law ( email )

400 Mrak Hall Dr
Davis, CA CA 95616
United States

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