Police reports show at least one of the four Ethiopian athletes who went missing after the World Junior Championships in Eugene last month planned to seek asylum.
Of the four Ethiopian athletes, three— Dureti Edao and Meaza Kebebe, both 18, and 17-year-old Amanuel Abebe—were found staying with friends in Beaverton. The fourth, 18-year-old Zeyituna Mohammed, was found in Federal Way, Wash. Mohammed reportedly told police she wants to stay in the United States.
Raquel Hecht is an immigration lawyer in Eugene. She explained what the athletes need to prove in order to gain asylum in the United States.
"You need to show that you have been persecuted or are likely to be persecuted on account of one of the five bases to be able to claim asylum, which are political opinion, race, religion, national origin and membership in a social group," Hecht said.
The U.S. State Department's latest report chronicles a deteriorating human rights situation in Ethiopia. The athletes hold visas allowing them to stay temporarily. Hecht speculates that given their young age, the athletes might be able to extend their visas and attend college in the United States.
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