Well this is huge.
In a ruling that advocates described as a historic victory for Central American refugees, a federal immigration board said Tuesday that a married woman fleeing domestic violence in Guatemala, where authorities could not or would not protect her, can seek political asylum in the United States.
A woman who has been brutally beaten by her husband, who tried to prevent her from leaving, has suffered “harm rising to the level of persecution,” said the Board of Immigration Appeals, which oversees the Justice Department‘s immigration courts.
Observing that Guatemala “has a culture of machismo and family violence,” the board said a married woman there who flees an abusive relationship can be considered a member of a “particular social group” – a crucial qualification for asylum eligibility.
Monday’s case, from an unidentified Midwestern state, involved a mother and three children who entered the United States in 2005. The immigration board said the woman’s husband beat her weekly, burned her with paint thinner and raped her. Police told her they would not interfere in a marital relationship, and her husband then threatened to kill her if she contacted authorities again, the board said.
After she and her children applied for asylum, an immigration judge ruled she had been the victim of criminal acts, not persecution. But the board said a woman’s inability to leave a violent marriage, or get help from her government, can be evidence of persecution that is grounds for asylum.
The board ordered the immigration judge to review the case and determine whether the woman would face renewed persecution if deported to Guatemala. If so, she and her children would be eligible for asylum.
Well unless her husband has gone to join the choir invisible, it seems a pretty safe bet she would be.
Another win for Emma Lazarus.