Beyond Credible Fear: Enforcement of the Leahy Law and the Role the Asylum System Should Play

Published date01 October 2020
Date01 October 2020
NOTES
BEYOND CREDIBLE FEAR: ENFORCEMENT OF
THE LEAHY LAW AND THE ROLE THE ASYLUM
SYSTEM SHOULD PLAY
IBRAHIM ALI*
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. INTRODUCTION .................................... 236
II. WHAT IS THE LEAHY LAW ?............................ 237
A. Def‌ining the Foreign Unit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 238
B. Leahy Vetting Procedure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239
III. FOREIGN AID DISCUSSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239
A. Egypt ...................................... 241
B. Saudi Arabia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 244
IV. ASYLUM DISCUSSION ................................ 246
A. Eligibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 246
B. What Counts as Persecution? ..................... 247
V. HOW THE ASYLUM SYSTEM CAN BOLSTER LEAHY ENFORCEMENT . . 248
* A pseudonym was chosen by the author to protect their identity.
235
A. Grants of Asylum by the U.S. Government Show that it is
on Notice that the Recipients of its Foreign Assistance are
Committing Gross Violations of Human Rights. . . . . . . . . 248
B. Further Evidence of the U.S. Being on Notice that its
Recipients of Foreign Aid are Committing Gross
Violations of Human Rights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251
VI. CHALLENGES AND RAMIFICATIONS ....................... 251
A. Geopolitical Considerations with Respect to Egypt. . . . . 252
B. Geopolitical Considerations with Respect to Saudi Arabia 253
C. Ensuring the Safety of Asylum Applicants ............ 253
VII. CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 254
I. INTRODUCTION
The United States faces a diff‌icult challenge of navigating geopolitical affairs
while upholding the values and principles that are central to America’s being:
democracy, liberty, equality, and the reception of “your tired, your poor, your
huddled masses yearning to breathe free. . . .” This is especially challenging
considering the dynamic nature of geopolitics and the notion that America’s
role in the world cannot always conform fully to its values.
A notable effort to conform U.S. foreign interests to its values is the Leahy
Law. Named after outspoken human rights advocate and the bill’s chief spon-
sor, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
1
, the Leahy Law prohibits the U.S. gov-
ernment from providing assistance to foreign security units that have
committed gross violations of human rights.
2
The law was inspired by efforts
to curtail U.S. military aid to Colombia in the late 1990s.
3
During this time,
Plan Colombia was coming to fruition. This was a contentious U.S. initiative
aimed at curtailing drug traff‌icking and conf‌lict in Colombia. The plan
included providing f‌inancial and security assistance to better train law
enforcement and encourage economic growth. The U.S. military assistance
helped the Colombian government’s struggle against the FARC and various
drug cartels.
4
Amnesty International and other human rights organizations
1. See generally U.S. SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY OF VERMONT, https://www.leahy.senate.gov/issues/
human-rights (last visited May 10, 2020).
2. See 22 U.S.C. § 2378 (1996); 10 U.S.C. § 362 (2016); see also Leahy Law Fact Sheet, U.S. DEPT
OF STATE (Jan. 22, 2019), https://www.state.gov/key-topics-bureau-of-democracy-human-rights-and-
labor/human-rights/leahy-law-fact-sheet.
3. Nate Smith, Deconstructing the Leahy Law: Fact vs Fiction, AMNESTY INTL (July 9, 2013),
https://www.amnestyusa.org/deconstructing-the-leahy-law-fact-vs-f‌iction.
4. See Plan Colombia: A Development Success Story, U.S. GLOB. LEADERSHIP COAL., http://www.
usglc.org/media/2017/04/USGLC-Plan-Columbia.pdf; Natalio Cosoy, Has Plan Colombia really worked?,
BBC (Feb. 4, 2016), https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35491504.
236 GEORGETOWN IMMIGRATION LAW JOURNAL [Vol. 35:235

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