With Brazil’s recent election of Jair Bolsonaro, a far right wing zealot, many Brazilians are afraid to be home in their country. Indeed, throughout his campaign and career, Bolsonaro has advocated for imprisoning political opponents, threatening during the campaign that political opponents, “[e]ither […] go overseas or they go to jail” if he got elected.
Bolsonaro is extremely dangerous for LGBTQ persons, saying that he is “very proud” to be a homophobe. Since his candidacy, there has been an increase in homophobic attacks against LGBTQ
persons in the country, which already had a high incidence of hate crimes. Bolsonaro will likely also target indigenous Brazilians. In the past, Bolsonaro stated that he wished genocide against indigenous people, saying, “[i]t’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry wasn’t as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated their Indians.” He has vowed to entirely eliminate indigenous lands, giving it to agribusiness. These are just a few examples of his incendiary rhetoric and threats to political opponents and vulnerable populations.
Humanitarian Protection for Brazilians
Fearful Brazilians may be eligible for humanitarian protection in the United States. Any person within the United States has the right to apply for asylum. INA section 208 provides that “[a]ny alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum.” The Trump Administration recently attempted to enact a policy change that would make those who are apprehended near the border by immigration authorities ineligible for asylum. However, this change flatly contradicts the law and is currently enjoined by a federal court. In any case, the change is prospective–meaning it does not impact those already in the United States. It also still leaves open other avenues for humanitarian relief to those it would impact. In other words, despite Trump’s efforts and media reports that oversimplify the process–the right to asylum and humanitarian protection still exists and Brazilians can apply.
For those from Brazil, the election of Bolsonaro could provide you with a good basis to receive asylum or other humanitarian protection. To receive asylum, an applicant must establish that she was harmed or would be harmed on account of a protected characteristic by the government or by forces that the government is unable or unwilling to control. A protected characteristic means religion, race, ethnicity, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group (such as family or LGBTQ identity). Based on Bolsonaro’s rhetoric, Brazilians that support the opposing party, LGBTQ Brazilians, and the Indigenous could have valid claims that the would be harmed in Brazil and that the harm would either be caused by the government or that the government would not protect them.
How can we help?
- If you are a Brazilian in the United States, and are afraid to go back to Brazil, please contact our office (Email us) and we can talk with you about your options for humanitarian protection. Our team is experienced in asylum and human rights related relief. As a government attorney, and a former asylum officer, I understand what the government is looking for in these cases and can help you prepare a strong application. Because of possible filing deadlines that could impact your eligibility, the sooner you talk with our office the better.
- If you are from Brazil, but previously denied asylum or ordered removed, there may be a basis for reopening your case based on changed country conditions. Again, the sooner we talk with you the better. Please contact our office.
- If you have family members or friends in Brazil that are afraid, do not let the rhetoric from the Trump administration stop them from trying to get to America to seek the protection that they are entitled to. Even under Trump’s new policy, asylum seekers can apply at the port of entry. Further, if you enter with a visa you are still eligible for apply for asylum. If you have family or friends in this position, please call us and we can discuss the options.
Call our today for a consultation today at 213-375-4084.