The trauma narratives told by refugees in their appeal for asylum status in the United States are culturally constructed, based not only on local cultural discourses for talking about grief, tragedy, struggle, and displacement, but also on the legal and bureaucratic cultures of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (B.C.I.S.). On the basis of interviews with asylum seekers and with immigration lawyers and B.C.I.S. officials, we discuss the cultural obstacles of the asylum application process.

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