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Many asylum seekers are denied relief in the United States because the asylum officer or immigration judge evaluating the case does not believe the asylum applicant is telling the truth. The applicant may appear not to be credible because his story of persecution lacks sufficient detail and is inconsistent. A victim of severe and often prolonged trauma may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which profoundly affects his ability to tell a consistent and detailed story of past persecution. Thus, an asylum seeker suffering from PTSD as a result of traumatic experiences, desperately in need of a safe haven, may be denied asylum due to the symptoms of his affliction. This article is timely in light of recent changes in immigration law that have considerably raised both evidentiary requirements and the standard for obtaining asylum. These changes create an asylum process that poses significant obstacles for asylum seekers and dramatically reduces their chances of being granted asylum. This article proposes practical methods for use throughout the lawyer-client relationship in order to help an asylum seeker credibly tell his story of past persecution. This article incorporates recent scientific research on PTSD and its affect on memory in recommending the counseling techniques in this article. These techniques may assist an asylum seeker in consistently recalling the details of past persecution that establish a well-founded fear of returning to his home country.

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Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal



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Previously published in of the Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal vol. 4 no.2

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