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Increasing number of LGBT asylum applicants are staying in U.S.

One year ago, the Nigerian Senate ignored criticisms from Western nations and formally passed legislation that makes homosexuality a crime. The Nigerian House is set to vote on the measure soon, which would additionally require family members to report any homosexual relationships involving their kin to the government. As a result of measures like this and forms of persecution sanctioned by other governments, an increasing number of LGBT global community members are seeking and being granted asylum in the United States.

To date, 102 LGBT applicants have been granted asylum in the United States due to sexuality-related persecution. Without the safe haven that asylum provides, some of these applicants would have been subject to imprisonment, extortion, employment termination, bodily harm or death at the hands of their persecutors.

In 2011 alone, however, 36,492 individuals were granted asylum in the United States for a myriad of reasons. The LGBT community only represents a small fraction of that total. Others are granted asylum status for political and religious persecution, as well as gender-based violence and other persecuting factors. The rise in persecution against individuals who identify as LGBT suggests that more of the U.S. asylum pool may soon be made up of these individuals.

When an individual fears deeply for his or her life and/or freedom because of class-based persecution, asylum may be a viable immigration option. While earning refugee status is subject to a quota system, America placed no limit on the number of persons who may be granted asylum each year. However, the process is complicated and denials may result in immediate deportation. As a result, if you have questions about seeking asylum, please contact an experienced immigration attorney who can advise you of the process and its benefits as well as its risks.

Source: ABC News, "LGBT Asylees Win Life in U.S. After Persecution Abroad," Susan Donaldson James, Nov. 21, 2012

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