HOUSTON, Texas — Foreign individuals may now seek asylum in the U.S. due to domestic abuse in their home countries. On Tuesday a federal immigration board ruled that a married Guatemalan woman, fleeing a violent husband back home, could obtain political asylum.
The Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that a woman who has been abused by her husband has endured “harm rising to the level of persecution,” according to the San Francisco Gate. The woman, who is currently in the U.S. with her three children, reportedly endured weekly beatings; her husband apparently burned and raped her. Despite the alleged abuse, police in Guatemala said they could not help the woman.
The ruling is significant, as the Board of Immigration Appeals oversees the immigration courts of President Obama’s Department of Justice.
The board reportedly acknowledged a culture of violence in Guatemala, which cases its domestic abuse victims to be in a “particular social group.” Such jargon implies “a crucial qualification for asylum eligibility,” according to the Gate.
It is easy to imagine that once word f the ruling spreads to Central America, thousands of women could come to the U.S. seeking asylum.
Breitbart Texas Contributing Editor and border security expert Sylvia Longmire said the “highly controversial ruling” could “open the immigration floodgates once again as word spreads about the change to asylum procedures. Although this change currently only applies to Guatemala, it’s probably only a matter of time before these protections start extending to women from Honduras, El Salvador, and possibly Mexico.”
It could prove difficult to prevent large numbers of foreigners from gaming the system.
“All victims of domestic abuse, whether they are women or children, deserve protection and safety, and sometimes refuge in the United States is the only way that can be achieved,” Longmire said. “However, it is imperative that US immigration authorities vet and process every single asylum case based on domestic abuse allegations to make sure the claims are completely legitimate, and that applicants are not trying to game the system.”
The ruling comes amid the border crisis, which has involved tens of thousands of Central Americans entering the U.S. illegally, hoping to obtain asylum. The crisis is a powerful example of how powerful word-of-mouth can be in Latin American culture; news reports and rumors were prompting many to make the dangerous journey north.
“Many Americans don’t understand the power of word-of-mouth in Latin America; it’s like gossip in a small American town times ten. Word about anything, especially friends or family members going though the northbound migration or southbound deportation process, spreads very quickly,” Longmire said.
There are currently an estimated 300 alleged domestic violence victims trying to obtain asylum in the U.S., the Gate reported. They will all appear before the Board of Immigration Appeals.
In a manner similar to that of the border crisis, the number of individuals seeking asylum for alleged domestic abuse could spike once word of the board’s ruling reaches Central America
Follow Kristin Tate @KristinBTate.