An Asylum Update

Earlier this week we represented a 17 year old girl at her individual hearing before an immigration judge. From the time she was five until she was thirteen her family was persecuted by the country’s security forces, suffering death threats, beatings and rape. Her parents fled to the US with their younger children leaving my client with her grandparents. Her grandparents then let a gang member take her to be his woman. She was 13, he was 22. For the next two and a half years he repeatedly beat and raped her and forced her to work for him. After being hospitalized from her last beating she fled to the US. She was pregnant when she got to the border and gave birth while in detention. The gang member continues to search for her.
We believed that the statutes and case law supported our application for asylum and when we entered the court the ICE attorney praised the quality of our pre-hearing brief and commented that “six months ago this would have been a slam dunk”. What he was referring to was the recent ruling by the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, known as Matter of A-B-. In that ruling he essentially said that victims of gang violence or domestic violence did not deserve asylum. It is a clear example of the inhumanity and flawed legal thinking of this administration.
In the past a case like this would have easily been granted asylum but our immigration judge deferred to the Attorney General’s ruling and ordered this child deported. At the close of the hearing he said it’s unfortunate that bad things happen to nice people.
We will appeal this decision and know that it is the first of many. Most of the cases we represent are for clients who faced similar situations in their home countries. We are working with others around the country through CLINIC and the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies to combine cases for litigation against this attack on due process and asylum law.
In the meantime we are getting reports of more young people arriving in our area every day who have fled similar circumstances and who need representation.