Our expectations were clear

Gary understands what kind of information claimants should include on their refugee claim forms. He thinks that the instructions on the forms make this clear to claimants as well. Gary also thinks that his questions are simple and straightforward. When he asks a question, he thinks that claimants should have no trouble understanding what he means.
Suspicious Gary
Gary is very suspicious when a claimant has interpreted the instructions differently or misunderstood his questions.
Red Flag

Writing the story

The BOC form tells claimants, in writing their story, to “include everything that is important.” Svetlana explained on the BOC form that her husband had hurt her almost daily for years. She described in detail two times when he had hurt her so badly that she had had to go to the hospital. At the hearing, Svetlana also told Gary about a third time when she had had to go to the hospital because of her husband’s abuse. Since she had only mentioned two hospital visits on her BOC form, Gary thinks that she is making up this third visit in order to make her story stronger.

Jamal had suffered a lifetime of persecution as a gay man. At his hearing, Jamal told Gary about an attack that he had suffered during which his finger was broken. Gary thinks that an attack this severe was clearly “important” enough to include on the BOC form, and since Jamal did not specifically mention it, Gary concludes that he has invented it.

In her BOC narrative, Araceli described the anonymous telephone calls that she began to receive when she started investigating a corrupt politician. She wrote that the caller threatened her, warning her to drop the matter. In her hearing, she provided more details: the caller had threatened to kill her if she did not stop her investigation. Gary thinks that the fact that she received not merely a threat, but a death threat, is very important information that was missing from her written narrative. He concludes that Araceli made up this detail at the hearing in order to make her claim stronger.

Lester described in his BOC form how he and his family had had to flee their country after a military coup. At one point in his hearing, Lester noted that his brother, who used to work for the government, had also been forced into hiding. Gary points out that the BOC form had asked Lester to explain what had happened to “you and your family,” as well as to “persons in situations similar to yours.” Gary would therefore have expected Lester to mention his brother’s situation as well. Gary concludes that Lester is making up his brother’s troubles.

What might have helped Svetlana, Jamal, Araceli and Lester?

Red Flag

Providing biographical details

Mamun described in his IRCC form how he had fled his home and gone into hiding at his aunt’s house. He stayed at her house until he fled his country several weeks later. But when he was asked to list his past addresses on his IRCC form, he did not include his aunt’s address. He gave his own home address as the address where he was living until the day that he left his country. Gary thinks that this answer on the IRCC form shows that Mamun was living at home the whole time and that he never went into hiding.

Pia wrote on her BOC form that a week before she left her country, she had had to quit her job because she was too afraid to leave her house. But when she was asked to give her “personal history” on her IRCC form, she listed herself as employed until the day that she left the country. Gary thinks that Pia’s answer to this question shows that she was working until the day that she left and was never forced to quit.

What might have helped Mamun and Pia?

Red Flag

Understanding Gary’s questions

Gary asked Angela, “Why do you think that your father is still looking for you?” She explained that her father was looking for her because he was very angry with her. Gary asked again, “Yes, but why do you think that he is still looking for you?” She responded, “Because he is very ashamed of me and I have made him very angry.” Gary thinks that Angela is avoiding the question.

Farzad was arrested twice. During the second arrest, the police took away his ID. In the hearing, Gary asked many questions about both arrests, going back and forth between the two events. At one point, Gary wanted to know more about the first arrest, but Farzad thought that they were discussing the second arrest. Gary asked, “Did they take your ID?” and Farzad answered, “Yes, as soon as we got to the station.” Gary thinks that he has caught Farzad in an inconsistency: Farzad just said that the police took his ID during the first arrest, but his BOC says that this happened during the second arrest.

What might have helped Angela and Farzad?

Read about Gary’s other Big Ideas: