Ms. Gomis case
Write an essay in response to one of the Assignment Memos from Making the Best Cas pages: 111
Use what you have learned about structure to make sure your thesis/roadmap sets out about three sub-topics, and devote one paragraph to each subtopic. Use what you
have learned about integrating quotes to decide when and how to bring in quotes.
Your grade will depend heavily on your use of the structure that you learned, and your gathering and integration of support.
Gathering Research 111
Note that our previous president spoke against granting asylum in cases such as these,
an occasion on which he also outrageously advocated the legalization of heroin and the
outlawing of bicycles. None of this is surprising, since he was fat and a bitter, frustrated
old man. Because of people like him, innocent little babies are being mercilessly denied
their rights, the food plucked right out of their defenseless hands by greedy and cruel
Nobody has ever proven that granting too many asylum cases has a bad effect on
society, so clearly it can only help. In fact, people granted asylum are so grateful that they
go out of their way to contribute to society. Nine out of ten people surveyed agree, including
the president of the National Dental Association. Furthermore, since time immemorial
we have always provided asylum in cases of religious persecution. Above all, the
most compelling reason to grant this asylum case is because it is the right thing to do.
Anticipating the opposition
No argument is complete unless it devotes time to examining the arguments
of the opposing side. It may seem strange to give “air time” to
your opposition by presenting their arguments, but failure to do so makes
it seem as though you have no answer to their points and gives them an
advantage. Just be strategic. Only bring up opposing arguments if you
can immediately point out the flaws or logical fallacies in them. But don’t
put ridiculous arguments into the mouths of the opposition just to make
them look foolish; doing so means committing the straw man fallacy
We have prepared a denial of an appeal from a Ms. Gomis who is seeking asylum. It
occurs to me that some of our arguments are not as strong as they could be, and I would
like to be prepared against counterarguments we may face. Please review the facts of the
case; then read the denial. Afterward, use the facts of the case to find any flaws in the
argument presented in the denial and prepare arguments in favor of Ms. Gomis.
112 Chapter 7
Facts of the Case
from Gomis v. Holder, 571 F.3d 353 (4th Cir. 2009).
Francoise Anate Gomis, a native and citizen of Senegal, petitions for review of an order
of the Board oí’ Immigration Appeals (BIA) that affirmed the decision of the immigration
judge denying her applications for asylum ***. Gomis contends *** that the BIA’s
finding that it is not more likely than not that Gomis will be subjected to female genital
mutilation if returned to Senegal is not supported by substantial evidence ***.
*** [T]n June 2005, Gomis filed an application for asylum in which she claimed that she
fled Senegal because her family wanted her to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM
or circumcision) and participate in an arranged marriage. ***.
At the hearing before the immigration judge, Gomis testified that she was born in
1978 in Dakar, Senegal, and lived with her family in the outskirts of Dakar. She is single
and does not have any children. Gomis and her family are members of the Djola
ethnic group, which still practices FGM, and her father, who is a businessman, has two
wives, both of whom are circumcised.
Relating her circumstances, Gomis testified that in June 1999, her parents took her
from school so that she could undergo FGM and become married to a man in his sixties.
In exchange for this marriage commitment, her parents accepted gifts from the man.
Because Gomis desired to finish school and retain her independence, she went to the police
to report her parents’ intentions, but the police told her to return home and try to resolve
the problem. *** On her uncle’s advice, Gomis obtained a passport and left home in
November 2000, initially hiding at a friend’s house in Senegal. *** Once in the United
States, Gomis worked for an employee of the International Monetary Fund for three years.
While in the United States, Gomis learned that her parents had forced her 15-yearold
sister to undergo FGM before marriage and that when Gomis’ brother filed a complaint
with the police, he was told to go home.
Gomis gave her opinion that 80 to 100% of the Djola women have undergone FGM
and have been forced to marry older men. According to Gomis, when a woman’s parents
were ready to have her undergo FGM, they would come to her room with other
family members when she was asleep and take her away. She noted that some families
have FGM performed on their daughters when they are young, while other families wait
until just before their daughters’ marriage.
She acknowledged, however, that the Senegalese government is against the practice.
Yet, families continue the practice of performing FGM because of tradition. Gomis stated
that because her family wanted her to undergo FGM, there was nowhere in Senegal she
Gathering Research 113
could live without fear of being subjected to it. She stated that her family is widely dispersed
throughout Senegal and that the country is small, where everyone knows each other.
* * *
In addition, Gomis presented other letters and documents confirming some of her
testimony. She submitted her sister’s medical file documenting her sister’s visit to the doctor
with medical complications after the circumcision; an attestation from her uncle stating
that he helped Gomis leave Senegal to go to the United States; an attestation from
the person who hired Gomis as a domestic servant, claiming that Gomis’ uncle arranged
for the employment; a letter sent to Gomis from her aunt in Senegal, who stated that her
flaneé provided a dowry and that all the other women her age have been circumcised; a
letter from her mother telling her that she cannot avoid customs, that her flaneé is losing
patience with her, and that the entire village is laughing at her family; a letter from her
father ordering her to return home so that she can be circumcised and marry her flaneé;
and finally a letter from her uncle stating that he had seen her parents, and they had not
changed their minds and continue to want Gomis to undergo the procedure.
The Department of State’s report on FGM in Senegal, dated June 1, 2001, which
was entered into the record, states that FGM is most common among Muslim groups in
the eastern part of the country, but that most Senegalese women have not undergone the
procedure and that it is becoming less common due to urbanization and education. The
report refers to a study published in 1988, which found that only 20% of Senegalese
women have undergone the procedure and which noted that other estimates place the
figure between 5 and 20%. The report related that FGM is hardly practiced in populated
urban areas. Regarding Gomis’ ethnic group, the Djolas, the report states that rural elements
of the Djola group practice FGM as a puberty initiation rite. For all of Senegal,
90% of the women who had undergone the procedure were between two and five years
old at the time of the procedure, but for others it was part of a puberty initiation rite.
In 1998, Senegal’s president called for the eradication of FGM, and since 1999,
there have been programs and seminars to educate the public about it. Many rural villages
have issued declarations against the practice. In January 1999, Senegal enacted a
law criminalizing FGM with a sentence of one to five years’ imprisonment. The report
added that there had been no convictions under this law, and, because many of those circumcised
were very young, they were not in a position to report violations.
Gomis also included in the record a State Department report on human rights conditions
in Senegal, issued in March 2006, which stated that FGM was practiced in thousands
of rural villages. It estimated that nearly 100% of the women in the northern Fouta
region were FGM victims and that nearly 60-70% of the women in the south and southeast
were. *** In addition, the report noted that 140 villages have renounced FGM but,
nonetheless, many people were still practicing it.
114 Chapter 7
Denial of Gomis Appeal
from: Gomis v. Holder, 571 F.3d 353 (4th Cir. 2009).
The record shows that the incidence of FGM in Senegal is low and that the practice
hardly occurs in urban areas, such as Dakar. Further, most women have not been forced
to undergo FGM, and the incidence of FGM is decreasing. Gomis, as an adult, is even
less likely to be forced to undergo FGM because 90% of the women who undergo the
procedure are between two and five years old at the time of the procedure. In addition,
both practicing FGM and ordering FGM to be carried out on a third party are crimes,
and prosecutors now bring criminal charges against perpetrators. Gomis was 29 years old
when the BIA dismissed her appeal, and her family lives in Dakar. She is relatively well
educated, especially in a country where the adult illiteracy rate approaches 40%, having
had 12 years of schooling. The weight of the record evidence, including her age, her
education, and the decreased incidence of FGM in Senegal, specifically in Dakar, supports
the immigration judge and BIA’s finding that it is not more likely than not that
Gomis will face persecution.