The state of the law regarding refugees in the United States has been characterized in the recent past by inconsistent rulings among the Circuit Courts, and narrow applications of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which provides the basis for asylum eligibility. In the midst of this sometimes-contradictory application of the INA, victims of attempted sex trafficking (those who have faced threats or attempts by sex traffickers to force them into sexual slavery) have consistently been rejected for asylum by U.S. courts. Federal courts have uniformly denied these asylum claims by ruling that these victims do not meet the INA’s requirement that refugees fall into a particular social group. Therefore, this Comment focuses largely on the argument that U.S. courts have interpreted the “social group” provision in an unduly narrow fashion, and that victims of attempted trafficking do indeed satisfy this element of the INA’s test for asylum eligibility. This Comment argues that U.S. courts’ rejections of these asylum claims are inconsistent with the legislative intent behind the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, federal case law that has granted asylum petitions in similar contexts, and the United Nations’ and international interpretations of refugee law. Based on these reasons and public policy concerns, U.S. courts should recognize the valid claims of many of these victims of attempted trafficking, and grant them the asylum that they deserve.

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