By Edward Shulman (594 words)
Posted in Immigration Law on May 31, 2014

There are (0) comments.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision that a person subject to removal from the United States cannot assert mental illness as a basis for seeking asylum in order to avoid being sent to one’s home country. In the appeal, Berisha v. Holder, No. 13-3490 (Ct. App. 6th Cir. 2014), Mark Vasel Berisha, a native and citizen of Albania, sought to have the ruling of Board of Immigration Appeal (BIA)- which itself upheld the Immigration Judge’s (IJ) refusal to grant asylum – reviewed by the federal appellate court.

The Department of Homeland Security served Mr. Berisha with a notice to appear before an IJ, charging him with removability under Section 212(a)(6)(A)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(6)(A)(i), as an alien present in the United States without being admitted. While Mr. Berisha conceded the issue of removal, he claimed that such removal should be withheld on the ground that he harbored a reasonable fear of persecution if he were to return to his native Albania. To support his claim, he asserted to the IJ that he suffered from mental illness and that the stigma attached to such condition in Albania would subject him to persecution.

To obtain asylum, Berisha must establish that he is a refugee — that he is unable or unwilling to return to Albania "because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of . . . membership in a particular social group." 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42)(A); see also 8 U.S.C. § 1158(b)(1)(B)(i). Although he left Albania during its civil war in 1997, he does not allege that he was persecuted in the past. Accordingly in order to secure asylum here, he must demonstrate (1) that he has a fear of persecution in his home country on account of . . . membership in a particular social group . . .; (2) that there is a reasonable possibility of suffering such persecution if he were to return to that country; and (3) that he is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of such fear."

But the distinction of having a mental illness does not place someone in a “particular social group” as that term is defined by law. Mr. Berisha could not establish that he faced a reasonable probability of persecution. And his argument that he cannot secure adequate treatment for his mental illness in Albania lacked any proof that such psychological services would not be available to him there. Furthermore, both the IJ and BIA noted that Albania's laws prohibit discrimination against persons with mental disabilities, that mental health facilities have improved, and that there is no shortage of essential drugs. So even if the mentally ill did constitute a “social group” which could qualify for asylum, the conditions in Albania would not warrant that an immigration court find that such justifies a grant of asylum. 

The Shulman Law Group, LLC has successfully handled and effectuated many asylum cases.  The firm and its staff are well-versed in the nuances and underpinnings of claims of persecution involving individuals from many countries.  What sets our firm apart from other law offices is that we skillfully prepare comprehensive applications that include country reports, autobiographical statements, affidavits from friends, family and colleagues, psychological evaluations, and expert witness testimonials--strategies that predispose the applicant to a higher probability of an approval. Our firm maintains an up-to-date knowledge on the latest case law which affects the manner in which these cases are reviewed.

Comments (0)

no comments posted

Leave a comment

* denotes required field
* Email will not be published
* Used to help prevent spam

Text only, html will be removed from comment

To make the long story short - I wouldn't be here now writing this review if it wasn't for him. He fought with me and for me as if he was defending himself and not some stranger from a foreign country. I will highly recommend him - if your case has any chance at all he is the one you need.

-Immigration Client

Breaking News


Following the Trump Administration's announcement that they would terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program set forth by President Obama via Executive Order, the University of California filed a formal legal complaint...

read more


A profound sense of demoralization and dread has gripped El Salvadorans, their families, their employers, and their communities across the United States today.  In President Trump's latest reversal of immigration policies that seek to terminate...

read more


The political landscape for immigrants in 2017 under Trump was bleak, with widespread anticipatory anxiety regarding the fate of DREAMers, TPS recipients, individuals from Muslim backgrounds, beneficiaries of chain migration, and the undocumented...

read more
© 2015 The Shulman Law Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Website Design by Hudson