Bryan Cave has represented two Syrian sisters for whom the firm filed asylum applications based on their well-founded fears of religious persecution. Both sisters are devout Christians. Because their father is Muslim, however, they are considered apostates – a violation of the version of Sharia Law espoused by many of the warring militias in the Syrian Civil War (ISIS and the Al Nursra Front, among others). The family has suffered the execution of family members and the horrific torture and murder of their parish priest has been highlighted in a report that was submitted by an NGO to the U.S. Congress.
What made these cases particularly challenging was the fact that both sisters have Jordanian passports by way of their father’s nationality (under Syrian law, nationality passes through the father, even though both sisters were born and raised in Syria and have no connection to Jordan). Accordingly, arguments in favor of granting asylum had to be made not only with respect to Syria but also with respect to Jordan, where apostates face similar dangers.
Despite recent figures that reveal that less than 25 percent of asylum applications are granted by the U.S. and that only 13 people of Jordanian nationality have been granted asylum, both sisters were recently granted asylum. This will allow them to stay in the U.S. Equally important is that the firm will be able to apply to have one sister’s husband obtain papers to come to the U.S. so he can be reunited with his wife and the baby son he has yet to meet.
The Bryan Cave team was led by Arindam Kar, with assistance from Ronni Gioia, Kristin Petersen, Tino Ochoa, Dan Sanchez and Luke McFarland.