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Are immigration authorities adding domestic violence to asylum?

If someone were to enter Reading in an attempt to flee persecution or abuse, should the government allow him or her to stay? If the immigrant is able to show that he or she has been persecuted or fears persecution because of his or her race, religious beliefs, membership in a social group, nationality or political opinion, he or she may receive asylum. Unfortunately, if he or she has faced persecution, but for some other reason, he or she cannot remain in the country.

Now, there is some discussion as to whether the Board of Immigration Appeals or the president will expand asylum regulations to automatically include domestic violence as one of those categories. Although there may be some concern that this would increase the number of people applying for asylum each year, if there is a change to the asylum system, there will still be a fairly rigid list of requirements for a successful asylum application.

If victims of domestic violence are included, it will be because they will be considered a specific social group. Based both on their gender and on the fact that they were abused by a member of their families, they would be considered a protected social group. When the topic came up in 2009, the Obama administration made it clear that in order for women who were the victims of domestic violence will also need to provide other evidence to be successful asylum seekers, such as that domestic violence is a large problem in the country.

As this story reminds us, asylum law is incredibly complex and very difficult for many people to tackle alone. In order to be successful in an application for asylum, someone must be able to show very specific evidence that meets every single criterion. Using an asylum law attorney is one of the best ways to make sure that all requirements are met.

Source: MinnPost, "Should battered women be given asylum in the U.S.?" Cynthia Boyd, March 1, 2013

If you want to learn more about the work we have done on behalf of immigrants looking for asylum, please visit our website.

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