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Synopsis

Every year, thousands of people seek asylum in the United States because they have been persecuted in other countries due to their race, religion, nationality, social group, or political opinion. In seeking refuge and protection, these immigrants must rely on the American court system to help them achieve safety from the great harm they have suffered.

In her unique and compelling judicial memoir, Susan Yarbrough, a former US immigration judge, highlights five significant asylum cases that she heard and decided during almost eighteen years on the benchcases that profoundly changed her not only as a judge, but also as a person.

Yarbrough recounts heartrending testimony described against the background of the countries in which the persecution took place, following each account with personal reflections on how she was emotionally and spiritually transformed by each person who testified. From Josué Maldonado, persecuted in El Salvador because of his religion, to Daniel Quetzal, an Indian from Guatemala who was tied naked to a pole and tortured because of his political opinion, the cases that the author shares provide an unforgettable glimpse into the lives of courageous people who risked everything for peace and freedom in the United States.

Bench-Pressed is the story of five asylum seekers and the judge who was irrevocably changed by the intersection of her life with theirs.

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