Immigration Judge Grants Asylum to Victim of Gender-Based Violence

Changes to America’s immigration laws and policies have made it especially difficult to be granted ‘asylum.’ But all hope is not lost. Despite many obstacles, asylum may still be possible with the right attorney.

On October 30, 2019, Attorney Kwong from Reeves Immigration Law Group successfully represented a young mother and her two minor children at the San Francisco Immigration Court. The mother, who was only in her mid-twenties, and her children escaped from their native El Salvador earlier this year and were requesting Asylum.

This young mother, who we will refer to as Gloria to protect her privacy, testified truthfully about the harm she suffered by her ex-partner over the years in El Salvador, her extended stay in the hospital, and why she did not contact the police for any of the incidents of abuse. Gloria tried her best to remember dates despite how emotional and overwhelming it was to relive these memories. The physical, verbal, sexual abuse was extensive, and he targeted her because of her gender.

This case was especially challenging because of a decision issued by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in June 2018. It was in this decision that he overturned a prior decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals that had found that “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship” qualifies as a particular social group. This decision by Attorney General Sessions was certainly a set-back for asylum seekers’ whose claims of persecution are on account of gender-based violence, but by arguing the facts specific to each case, asylum is clearly still attainable!

In Gloria’s case, the Immigration Judge agreed that reporting the abuse to the police would have been futile, as the police and law enforcement authorities in El Salvador would not have been able to adequately protect Gloria and her family even if she did report the abuse. Finally, the Immigration Judge concluded that there was a sufficient connection between the persecution Gloria suffered with her characteristics of belonging to a particular social group. As such, the Immigration Judge granted Gloria and her two children asylum to lawfully stay in the United States.

After receiving the judge’s order, Gloria smiled for the first time all day. Her prayers had been heard and relief, gratitude, and freedom washed over her. She now looks forward to her scheduled reporting with ICE so that they will take off the shackle on her leg known as an ankle monitor. She also looks forward to one year from now when she and her children can apply for lawful permanent residence.

Stories like this one not only give hope and inspiration to countless asylum applicants nervously anticipating their days in court, but also serve as a reminder of how our nation functions. Our society operates on a system of checks and balances, and each branch of the government plays a specific role. When the legislative branch passes laws, the judicial branch interprets them. Our laws remain in effect even though it feels like American immigration laws are becoming more restrictive. Thus, applicants remain protected and should consult with an experienced immigration attorney regarding eligibility for immigration benefits or reli