Publication Date



48 p. ; An outstanding student paper selected as a winner of the Don F. McCormick Prize.


Part I of this paper introduces the topic. Part II examines Afghanistan's long history of unstable politics and civil war. The Taliban's rise to power will also be discussed. While this paper briefly addresses the recent fall of the Taliban and the impact of the ongoing United States actions against terrorism, women's status in Afghan society during Taliban rule as a potential basis for refugee status will be the focus of the historical analysis. The United States' law regarding refugees is based on the United Nations (UN) 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees definition. Part III explores how the five enumerated elements of the United States' definition of a refugee, encompassed in INA \xa7 101(a)(42), have been interpreted by the Immigration and Nationalization Service (INS) and by the federal court system. Membership in a particular social group will be analyzed separately from the other enumerated grounds because of its specific applicability to Afghan women seeking asylum in the United States. There are very few existing cases involving Afghan women who have fled the Taliban and who have subsequently sought asylum in the United States by claiming membership in a particular social group. Part IV will examine the few existing cases as well as examining several asylum cases in which the claimants were women from other Islamic theocracies whose claims were based on membership in a particular social group. Part V will discuss a hypothetical Afghan woman who is claiming asylum in the United States. This theoretical claimant's asylum petition will be analyzed according to case law with particular attention given to the framing of her particular social group argument. Part VI will summarize the analysis in Part V and offer the most successful framing of a particular social group that an Afghan woman could make based on existing United States' case law.


University of New Mexico School of Law

Document Type

Student Paper



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