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Asylum & Immigration: 45 American "Refugees" Seek UK Asylum

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When one considers the legacy of George W. Bush, one's mind wanders to the war in Iraq; Guantanamo; the Patriot Act; and, ultimately, financial meltdown.

For many, his presidency was simply too much to bear: according to Home Office statistics - released to the under the Freedom of Information Act - 45 U.S. citizens applied for between 2004 and 2008 claiming persecution as "political refugees."

One can only speculate at the reasons why the UK Border Agency denied them asylum, indeed why the self-proclaimed refugees even bothered to apply, since the Home Office refuses to release the information.  Apparently "a manual search of the records would be required, exceeding the time limit for Freedom of Information requests."

The  cites online forum entries, however, where applicants explain their circumstances.  In one, a Texan claimed persecution as a "political dissident against U.S. government war-mongering."

While most American asylum seekers fail to gain overseas refuge, a couple did succeed in the Netherlands and Costa Rica (on the ground they were fleeing domestic abuse).

And during the Iraq and Vietnam wars, many U.S. soldiers deserted and moved abroad to escape court-martial.  Most didn't bother to apply for asylum, however, and simply lived as illegal immigrants.

One soldier, Bethany Smith, fled to Canada claiming persecution because of her sexual orientation.  The  reports she told Canadian authorities she was "repeatedly harassed and threatened with death, and denied an honourable discharge because her superiors wanted to send her to Afghanistan." Seemingly Canada rejected her initial application, but a senior judge subsequently ordered the country's immigration and refugee board to take another look at her case.

Chief executive of the Refugee Council Donna Covey believes "no country is safe for every person all of the time - those with a genuine need for protection, whatever country they are from, should have the right to claim asylum in a place of safety."

** UK Immigration Information & Advice **

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