Expanding the use of asylum to include wife abuse?

A California Law School is working hard to convince the Dept. of Homeland Security that women who claim domestic violence by their husbands anywhere in the world can be granted asylum by the US.   Although we have sympathy for abused women where their country’s government won’t help them, I doubt few of these cases involve women from Muslim countries where wife beating is permitted by law (see Janet Levy on that point yesterday).  Most other countries have laws to protect women to one degree or another.

Also, I can see how hard it would be for someone to prove to a judge (or for the judge to believe the story!) that their hubby beat them, perhaps years before they undertook a dangerous and expensive journey to get across our borders in order to ask for asylum (by hooking up with an immigration attorney who teaches them how to ask).

Here is the story:

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies has been instrumental in helping women gain refuge from domestic violence.

This summer, in cases that made national headlines, two women whose legal teams were supported by CGRS won asylum after suffering years of abuse and lack of protection from authorities in their home countries.

Aruna Vallabhaneri lived first with abuse from her husband in Hyderabad, India, and then with the threat of deportation when she fled to the U.S. She initially filed for asylum and was denied in 1998 and ordered deported. But after hearing testimony of the abuse in her arranged marriage, she was granted asylum on the basis of domestic violence in June 2012.  [India doesn’t have laws to protect people against violence?—ed]


Under current U.S. law, individuals should be granted asylum if they have suffered persecution or have a well-founded fear of persecution for one of five reasons — political opinion, race, religion, nationality or membership in a particular social group. Domestic abuse claims most often fall under the statutory ground of particular social group, the murkiest and most contested category.

Until recently, the Department of Homeland Security, which both adjudicates some asylum claims and prosecutes others, has not supported domestic violence claims, and regulations promised in 2000 have yet to be issued. In April 2009, the department filed a legal brief in a domestic violence case known as L.R., taking the position that women who are victims of domestic violence may qualify for asylum. Despite this recognition, the brief is not binding on immigration judges, and many Homeland Security attorneys have continued to fight domestic violence cases.


Of the 619 domestic violence asylum cases for which the center has provided counsel between 1994 and 2011, 422 women were granted asylum, and 192 were denied.

So, what are they complaining about.  Accepting 2/3rds of the claims and rejecting 1/3 doesn’t sound all that bad of a record.  Do these lawyers expect the judges to approve 100% of the claims?

By the way, once asylum is granted these new “refugees” become eligible for all of the social services refugees get—food stamps, subsidized housing, health care, etc.

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