Autistic Boy Granted Political Asylum
The INS has granted political asylum to an autistic boy from Pakistan whose mother claimed he would face persecution because of his condition if he returned home, the AP/Washington Times reports. Experts say that by granting asylum to 10-year-old Umair Choudhry, whose condition leaves him prone to "violent, self-abusive outbursts," the INS has for the first time expanded the scope of the Immigration and Nationality Act to include a disabled person as part of a "social group" worthy of protection. Robert Esbrook, director of the INS Office of Asylum in Chicago, said, "[Choudry's] asylum was granted not on the basis of being disabled or autistic. It's the persecution his disability itself causes. He fits the classic definition of a refugee." He added that the INS would not "automatically grant" political asylum to other disabled children, but immigration "experts" said the decision "appears to expand" the conditions under which political asylum can be granted (AP/Washington Times, 2/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.