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Mexicans Increasingly Seeking Asylum in U.S. to Escape Drug Violence

While a number of Americans are disagreeing over illegal immigrants and how to protect southern borders, it is likely that many are not taking into account the number of Mexicans trying to simply seek safety in the United States.

A recent report shows that the vicious drug wars in Mexico have been driving a large number of Mexicans north who are simply seeking safety under U.S. asylum laws.

Asylum may seem like a viable option for these Mexican nationals, but such classification is not an easy one. Asylum has a very high legal standard and applicants must show they belong to a political, religious, ethnic, national or social group being persecuted by a government or forces that the government cannot control.

The classification of asylum is generally sought by those fleeing communist regimes, dictatorships or civil wars. Those Mexicans fleeing the violence in their country must be able to convince U.S. authorities that the Mexican government cannot control the drug cartels and that they are being persecuted for their political involvement in trying to destroy the cartels.

Since 2006, the growing violence from the government-declared war on cartels has killed more than 15,000 people. For those who seek and win asylum, they could be effectively widening the boundaries of U.S. asylum law by loosening the definition of what constitutes political persecution.

"I think you are likely to see more (asylum seekers), and we are already seeing significant numbers," said Donald Kerwin, a lawyer and asylum expert at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

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