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Domestic Violence Victims Qualify for Asylum

Sep 12, 2014 8:57:37 AM / by Staff Attorney posted in VAWA


In 2005, a Guatemalan woman entered the United States illegally while fleeing from her husband. According to a news report in The Associated Press, she reported to local police in Guatemala that she was being abused, but was repeatedly told that they would not meddle with her marriage. The woman then reportedly fled the country illegally, entering the United States. In court, she argued that the lack of police response should qualify her for asylum in the United States.

On August 26, 2014, the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals agreed in part that spousal abuse could affect immigration claims. The appeals board concluded that she met at least one criterion for asylum by being a married Guatemalan woman who could not leave her marriage. Her case was sent back to an immigration judge for a final ruling. This means that victims of domestic violence, at least those in Guatemala, are now potentially considered a protected class of people who may seek refuge in the United States.

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VAWA and Victims of Violence

Sep 2, 2014 8:52:32 AM / by Staff Attorney posted in VAWA


The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was drafted by the office of then Senator Joe Biden and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994. The Act provides money for investigating and prosecuting violent crimes against women. It also allows certain victims of violence to remain in the United States.

Under VAWA, an abused child or spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident can self-petition for lawful status in the United States. Individuals who request lawful status after being the victim of abuse may receive employment authorization and access to public benefits. VAWA can provide survivors of domestic violence the means to escape future violence and to establish independent lives.

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