San Diego Law Review

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



During the height of the Central American civil wars of the 1980s, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals established liberal precedent for granting asylum under the Immigration and Nationality Act to deportable aliens who had been threatened for resisting government or guerrilla service in their native countries because of their political opinions (including neutrality), whether expressed, implied, or imputed to them by those who meant them harm. However, in INS v. Elias-Zacarias, the Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit and stated that an asylum applicant's political opinion may not be imputed to him by the actions of his alleged persecutors. In view of the Supreme Court's decision, and the Ninth Circuit's reaction to it in case law, this Article explores the viability of the doctrine of implied and imputed political opinion in asylum cases. The author finds that this doctrine remains problematic in our increasingly violent, Balkanized world.