Deportation remains a significant threat for large numbers of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Yes, the Deferred Action program has given some breathing room to younger immigrants who meet certain criteria. But for others, the risk of being deported remains all too real.
In Minnesota and across the country, gaining legal status through allowable means is therefore of important interest. Family immigration and employment immigration are two such ways. And another is asylum.
It is unclear, however, whether having suffered domestic abuse in the country of origin is a ground for asylum in the U.S. The issue is posed in a current Minnesota case involving a woman from Honduras who is facing deportation.
The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) must rule on the issue in the Honduran woman’s case. There are indications that the BIA may be inclined to recognize asylum in domestic violence cases such as this.
One indicator, in particular, is a “friend of the court” brief. The BIA has asked the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AAIA) to submit such a brief – also known as an amicus brief – making the argument for allowing asylum in domestic abuse cases.
To be sure, even if the BIA rules in favor of recognizing domestic violence as a ground for asylum, it would not immediately ensure that any particular application for asylum would be approved. The applicant would need to show that the domestic violence was severe. And other eligibility criteria would need to be met.
The amicus brief in the case makes the argument for asylum on the grounds that women who fear domestic violence should be considered a protected social group.
Source: “Should battered women be given asylum in the U.S.?,” MinnPost, Cynthia Boyd, 3-1-13
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