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.