This chapter considers how asylum seekers making political opposition claims use counter-narrative strategies to frame their actions and their identities as compatible with being a refugee in the United States. These narratives reflect more than political opinion; these claims are raised by individuals whose political views or actions can be described, in the context of their countries of origin, as disruptive, dangerous or revolutionary. Asylum seekers making these claims must carefully navigate questions of agency and vulnerability, and in doing so present powerful, credible alternatives to the kids of typical refugee claims commonly made in the US.

To explore the types of counter-narrative strategies used I analyze 30 asylum claims from nationals of 11 countries made in the US between 1989 and 2011. The analysis reveals three emergent themes in the sample: those where the claimant constructs themselves as on the right side of history, if even on the wrong side of the law; those who construct their actions and selves as embodying traditionally American values such as freedom of speech, tolerance and respect for the rule of law; and those who opposed Communism.