This chapter examines the reliance of asylum as a legal category on a transnational social-scientific vocabulary since its codification into international law in 1951. It makes a case for the use of a vernacular, non-imported lexicon in order to directly speak to the cultural-linguistic register of claimants who are unfamiliar with asylum legal jargon. This chapter draws on my experience as a Spanish-language interpreter and translator for the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant (EBSC), a non-profit organization that advocates for the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees in the San Francisco Bay Area. I situate the EBSC's establishment within the broader context of theSanctuary Movement in the early 1980s which mobilized human rights advocates in California and Arizona in response to US-supported atrocities in El Salvador and Guatemala and in defiance of US asylum practices. I analyze the cases of two Central American asylum-seekers with whom I worked at EBSC to demonstrate the extent to which a transnationally imported legal lexicon fails entirely to connect with their lived trauma. To make a credible and compelling asylum claim is to be made visible within a legal category. In that vein, I argue that the field of translation and interpretation can help bring asylum as a legal category into closer alignment with the cultural-linguistic register of asylum-seekers who come from El Salvador, Guatemala, and many other countries.