US Justice Department Board Rules to Consider Spousal Abuse in Immigration Claims
Central American migrants ride a freight train during their journey toward the U.S.-Mexico border in Ixtepec, Mexico. (Alicia A. Caldwell/Associated Press)
In a first-of-its-kind ruling that could make it easier for some immigrant women to win permission to remain legally in the United States, the Justice Department Board of Immigration Appeals has determined that Guatemalan women who fled their country due to domestic violence can qualify for asylum.
The board, which decides appeals in cases first heard by immigration courts run by the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, ruled that married women in Guatemala who have been victims of domestic violence and are unable to leave their relationship can be considered a particular social group in asylum cases.
The ruling, issued earlier this week, is important because it establishes for the first time that domestic violence victims can qualify for asylum in the United States.
More than 62,000 people traveling as families, most of them women and young children from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, have been apprehended at the Mexican border since Oct. 1.
The new case involved a Guatemalan mother of three who crossed the border illegally in December 2005 after fleeing her husband. She said she called local police in Guatemala several times to report the abuse, but was repeatedly told that the authorities would not interfere in her marriage. She said that the abuse and the lack of police response should make her eligible for asylum.
The Homeland Security Department, which prosecutes deportation cases, did not contest the immigrant’s argument. The appeals board sent the case back to an immigration judge.
The ruling does not automatically mean the woman and her children will be granted asylum, though her lawyer told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he believes she will ultimately win.
Read the rest at The Washington Times
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