Asylum based on domestic abuse

The US is now allowing asylum on grounds of domestic abuse.

In addition to meeting other strict conditions for asylum, abused women will need to show that they are treated by their abuser as subordinates and little better than property, according to an immigration court filing by the administration, and that domestic abuse is widely tolerated in their country. They must show that they could not find protection from institutions at home or by moving to another place within their own country.

(Thanks, Jender-Parents!)

7 thoughts on “Asylum based on domestic abuse

  1. i’m wondering about what it will cover. Will a child being forced into marriage be considered a victim of domestic abuse?

  2. Apparently how this is going to work is still pretty unclear. (I had the chance to work on this stuff, among other things, while spending a summer at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at UC Hastings Law School a few years ago. They are on the forefront of this stuff.) It seems that some direction has been given to asylum officers but not much yet at all to immigration judges. How it will play out isn’t clear yet. As for some of the other questions, forced marriage is already a potential ground for asylum, though a hard one because of practical problems. (Those facing it usually can’t get to a place to apply, for example.) The sorts of cases being considered here involve serious physical abuse for significant periods of time in counties (mostly, but not always, Central American) where the possibility of recourse to legal protection is essentially impossible. Because of the way asylum law works, this is necessary. (A woman who is abused in the US, for example, would not plausibly qualify for asylum in Canada, and vice versa.) I seriously doubt that the European decision made much difference- this has been brewing in the US for a long time- nearly getting sorted out in the last days of Clinton, being pushed back under Bush, and then getting better again now. I think the domestic causes are probably the explanatory ones. As for the first comment, it’s worth noting that in most aspects the asylum and refugee law and practices of the US (and Canada- they are quite similar) are significantly more progressive than those of Europe. This is so in terms of grant rate (the most important element, I think), types of grounds considered, and refugee resettlement, both in percentages and in total numbers. The one area where many European countries are better is w/ social services, though when the differences in grant rate are so huge (low to mid single digits in most European countries vs 30-40% in the US, if memory serves), this is a small comfort.

  3. I have worked with refugees and immigrants for a few years now and I have learned that it is virtually impossible to be granted asylum by the U.S. To many of these women, seeking asylum in another country is a desparate and last minute attempt at saving their lives and the lives of their children. Often times they do not bring the necessary “proof” or documentation to show to the USCIS and are then placed in a detention center until a trial can be set. The detention centers are often prisons, families are separated, and they can remain in these centers for years. The way the United States handles refugees and asylum seekers is less than adaquate and in need of a serious change in policy, especially in regards to abused and trafficked women.

  4. I have worked with refugees and immigrants for a few years now and I have learned that it is virtually impossible to be granted asylum by the U.S.

    This isn’t true. The total grant rate for the US is more than 30%. That doesn’t seem high, but it’s much higher than the vast majority of countries. It also is lower because of a fairly large number of claims that are either not plausibly valid asylum claims (though the people are sympathetic in many ways) or are frivolous claims. The grant rate for cases that pass a minimal test of plausibility (i.e.- they at least arguably fit into the UNHCR refugee definition and are not barred for other grounds) is quite a bit higher in the US. Getting asylum is hard, and especially hard to do w/o some sort of help. But, to say that it’s “virtually impossible” is just not supported by the facts.

  5. I’m a bit behind on this, but in a somewhat similar vein the UK government has recently been considering granting (and in one case has granted) asylum to women from Saudi Arabia whose cases are based on the risk of persecution by their families or the law if they were to remain in S.A.
    Details here:

    There are of course significant differences between the UK/Saudi Arabia case and the USA case.

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