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Jesus is refused asylum


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Dear Jesus,

You have applied for asylum in the United Kingdom and asked to be recognised as a refugee under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Geneva Convention) on the basis that it would be contrary to the United Kingdom’s obligations under the Geneva Convention for you to be removed from or required to leave the United Kingdom. You claim to have a well founded fear of persecution in The Holy Land. Your application has not been considered by the Secretary of State personally but by an official acting on her behalf.

In your interview you gave conflicting and inconsistent information about the basis on which you claim to have suffered persecution. You claim to have suffered persecution because you are descended from David. In the alternative it is because you are the son of God. It is noted that in your screening interview you named Joseph and Mary as your parents. You also claim to have suffered persecution because of your preaching activities.

It is considered that even the basic personal information you have provided about your family is inconsistent and therefore casts doubt on your entire claim. It is further noted that you have failed to provide birth certificates or other documents that might be expected to prove you are descended from David or that you are the son of Mary, Joseph and/or God. While it is accepted that asylum seekers may have difficulty producing documentary proof, you claim to have 11 close supporters who could easily send you such documents.

Furthermore, it is considered that you can return to The Holy Land and preach more discreetly in future because you have not proven that this is central to your identity.

Because of your family background you claim to have narrowly avoided being killed soon after birth when a local warlord called Herod ordered the slaughter of the innocents. It is noted that some country information sources confirm that such an event took place. However, your claim to be the intended victim is rejected. If you had been the intended victim and Herod was as powerful as you claim then you would be dead by now. It is implausible that you could have escaped in the way that you claim. This aspect of your account is rejected as being implausible and it casts doubt on the rest of your account.

It is noted that you and your family fled Herod’s territory. If you were a genuine refugee you would have claimed asylum in the first safe country. This casts further doubt on the veracity of your claim.

You claim to have been involved in a number of extremely implausible events, including walking on water and moving a very large boulder while technically dead. Your representative, a qualified and accredited Church of England adviser, submitted that these miracles are allegorical and are in fact complex metaphors. It is noted that you make no such claim yourself. These aspects of your claim are rejected and undermine your general credibility. It is noted that you claim that these events exacerbated your persecution. As the events are rejected, so too is your claim to have been persecuted because of them.

It is noted that you claim to have travelled to the UK on a previous occasion with Joseph of Arimathea. As your representative conceded the dates simply do not add up. Further, if you had travelled to the UK previously you have not explained why you did not claim asylum previously. If you were genuinely in fear of your life because of your family background it is reasonable to have expected you to claim asylum at the earliest opportunity. This casts further doubt on the veracity of your claim.

It is further noted that your fear is of the Pharisees. They appear to be non-state actors. It is therefore considered reasonable that you relocate within The Holy Land. Further, it is considered that you have failed to avail yourself of the protection of the local authorities and therefore that you will have a sufficiency of protection if you are returned. You claim that Pilate ‘washed his hands’ of you but this does not indicate an inability on the part of state authorities to offer protection, the test established by the case of Horvath. There remains an appeal mechanism to the Roman Emperor and you have not stated any reason as to why you could not pursue this avenue of official complaint.

Your claim for asylum is rejected. You are requested to leave the UK. If you do not leave voluntarily your departure will be enforced. Alternatively you can contact Refugee Action who can assist you with a voluntary return package under the Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme and you could be entitled to as much as £1,500 to assist you to settle back in The Holy Land.

Yours etc

This a very slightly revised version of a post first published in 2010. I aimed here to capture some of the bureaucratic language of real asylum refusal letters as well as some of the classic reasoning deployed in many reasons for refusal of asylum.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Interested in refugee law? You might like Colin's book, imaginatively called "Refugee Law" and published by Bristol University Press.

Communicating important legal concepts in an approachable way, this is an essential guide for students, lawyers and non-specialists alike.

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.


32 Responses

  1. Revelation 11:15
    And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

  2. Well done Colin. I have the belief that the secretary of state will reconsider to grant Him asylum before Xmas! This will enable us to rejoice with Him. He is alive and every where anyway, even if the secretary of state fails to grant Him asylum.

  3. I am sorry but I have to differ strongly. I do not think it is acceptable to use the name of Jesus this way. I am sorry but this is blasphemy. I am a Christian and I do not take my faith so seriously. However, I find this article and the biblical references to be insulting to my faith – I think this is gone too far! I do not suppose Colin would write a similar article by reference to Allah or other religious Supreme Leader. So why make a mockery of Jesus this way? I do not find this to be entertaining in any shape or form. All I see is sheer blasphemy! Shame you on Colin!!

    1. A classic example, Sue Harbottle, of how not only to miss the point but to run screaming in the opposite direction.

    2. Alllah would be even easier to refuse as, not being human, the ECHR would not apply. Also being omnipotent there’s arguably sufficiency of protection!

    3. hi Sue, I’m a practicing Muslim and regard Jesus as one of our major prophets. If Colin wrote the name Mohammed, instead of Jesus, I would have thought this was very respectfully done. If anything, this shows a deeply held respect for Jesus and his struggle.

  4. This is absolutely brilliant Colin! The temporising captures the likely events around the life of Jesus (if he truly existed) in the so called biblical times. And that will be true of any of the other founders of faiths including Mohammed, Buddha, etc. Today, many from the different religions and without see themselves as messiahs or defenders of their faith and may face the reality of the day so truly represented here.

  5. I totally agree with Sue…..the reference to Jesus this way is demeaning and derogatory. Perhaps, we should avoid drawing religion into our professional lives. It is a sensitive matter and I do not see any banter in all this ….as a matter of fact I am equally dismayed. Colin…I do not think you deserve any praise for this ….just pity.

    1. Jesus Christ is our Saviour and our King: the Resurrection and the Life. I think that one among the infinite amount of things he is able to do is take a joke…

    2. Oh, grow up…as i did in the midst of a highly religious upbringing.

      Therein i discovered that those most likely to tell scurrilous jokes of a religious nature tended to be those most principally charged with upholding the values of that religion – to wit, the local parish priests.

      The best line yet, remembered from a long ago church barn dance organised by myself and friends, was when the junior priest of the parish scandalised the older folk by observing that we had plenty of booze for the evening, but, if we ran out “we could always try the old water into wine trick!”

      And no: i am not ex/lapsed/sceptical…

      I’ll be singing along with the rest of the children at the family mass tonight (which is where a lot of the part-time catholic folk turn up during their three times a year visits) as well as at mass proper this sunday.

      I loved this piece…and if there is no humour in your religion, maybe time to reflect on what your religion is for…

  6. As a retired Anglican priest, I don’t find this blasphemous in the least,. but rather making a very serious point in a humorous manner. Well done.

  7. Personally I’d have made him a ward of court. Parentage claim clearly dubious and all this cross border movement and hiding in stables waiting for dodgy geezers on camels. How many more trafficking indicators do they need?

  8. Take no notice of those who can see no parallels between ‘historical’ accounts and present reality. What you wrote is not in the least blasphemous, demeaning or derogatory and I am sure most intelligent Christians would not see it in the way your critics see it. I thought it was brilliant.

  9. Witty, original and thought provoking.

    Those of us that have a faith should be secure enough in ourselves and our beliefs to be able to cope with a little humour (particularly when the parallels are so uncomfortably on point).

    Merry Christmas to ‘Immigration Lawyers’ and to one and all!

  10. Not blasphemous at all! I think that if Jesus did exist, he would appreciate standing with those in need, a point made by the Pope himself recently in regard to migrants seeking to enter Europe. Colin – a brilliant post.

  11. I wish people would speak for themselves …..I, for one, do not find this funny. As a matter of fact I regard it as preposterous.

    1. Preposterous and funny are hardly incompatible! On the other hand, if it is preposterous you shouldn’t be offended by it…not that you said you were offended.

  12. As the piece gently hints, Jesus *was* a displaced person in Egypt, along with thousands of Jews, some fleeing persecution and some seeking opportunities in a more prosperous economy. He had a genuine claim and under Roman free movement, was find refuge until conditions improved in his own country. Mr Yeo could have strengthened his case and avoid controversy completely by focusing on this moment in Jesus’ life. And thinking about this young childhood would have been more Christmassy too!

    As a Christian, I welcome using Jesus’ life to draw attention to the needs of the weak and marginalized. I thank God for those of you who are lawyers and advisers ensuring that refugees’ claims and heard carefully and considered with justice and mercy. And I pray that all of you will realize that no system can deal fairly with everyone until Jesus returns to rule in justice, power, and mercy. And why not consider whether your respect for displaced people would extend to making one of them your king this Christmas?

  13. Dear Colin
    As we have been blessed by your blog for many years, a challenge to you could be to read the Gospel of John in the New Testament as part of your “CPD” (Christian Personal development). It may help with any future drafting/editing of Jesus asylum letters to omit any potentially offensive bits for some readers. It’s a very good read :-). Merry Christmas to you and thank you for your blog.

  14. On a more serious note, however…the rolling back of the stone is not directly attributed to Jesus, but to an angel…either directly…or as a result of an earthquake which resulted when the angel descended.

    And, since this is a legal blog, however tenuous, i doubt Jesus would have had any right of appeal to the Emperor of the time. Such a right was confined to Roman citizens and at this point in time, Roman citizenship remained a fairly restricted privilege…

    Sorry…twas the pedant in me made me write that!