Violence against women and children in a domestic setting is a human rights violation in the most persuasive of sense. Whether you are a married woman or a child in a setting where abuse is directed at you in a way that threat of life is prevalent, then you should be granted asylum in a country where such abuse is not tolerated.
Asylum via an immigration point of view is a law that is pretty straight forward. Those who fall into a category of credible fear may seek asylum and gain lawful permanent residency here in America. Specifically, he or she must have a well-founded fear of persecution based on one or more of five grounds:
· Membership of a particular social group
· Political opinion
After years of debating whether victims of domestic violence have a legitimate claim to asylum, the US Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) finally recognized in 2014 that married women who are unable to leave their relationships may constitute a cognizable particular social group for the purposes of seeking asylum. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has questioned whether such claims to asylum are legitimate by referring to himself a BIA case, Matter of A-B- (BIA Dec. 8, 2016), where the Board found that a victim of domestic violence was indeed eligible for asylum. Pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 1003.1(h)(1)(i) (2017), Sessions may refer a case to himself for review, and has asked each party to submit briefs on “[w]hether, and under what circumstances, being a victim of private criminal activity constitutes a cognizable ‘particular social group’ for purposes of an application for asylum or withholding of removal.”
This requirement/move by the attorney general burdens those who seek asylum based on domestic abuse because in totality it adds another requirement to a standard that is already hard to meet. This requirement by the Attorney General is questionable, but the laws on asylum give absolute discretion to the attorney general on decision making. Reform in immigration law was supposed to happen and now all we can do is hope that it will happen. The grim look in immigration from the president and his cabinet is something no immigrant wants to stare into and reform is the proverbial blinding light.
By Attorney Hamzey Sobh