Immigration and Human Rights Clinic Helps Salvadoran Woman Gain Asylum

September 1, 2015

The Law School’s Immigration and Human Rights Clinic recently helped a Salvadoran woman gain asylum in the United States.

The client came to the United States in 2012 to escape her abusive husband, who had physically, sexually, and psychologically abused her for many years in El Salvador. He struck her on numerous occasions, using tree branches, ropes, and belts. He also beat their children, and frequently threatened his wife’s life.

The Immigration and Human Rights Clinic represented the client throughout her asylum claim. Student attorneys Eleanor Lewis (’14) and David Solis (’13) and student director Claudia Vincze-Turcean (’13) prepared the client’s asylum application, then represented her at her individual asylum hearing in March 2013.

In February 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) issued two decisions, Matter of M-E-V-G- and Matter of W-G-R-, that expounded upon the legal standard for an applicant seeking asylum based on “membership in a particular social group.” With the assistance of student attorney Eleanor Lewis, supervising attorney Professor Stephen Meili, and Emily Good (’03), an adjunct professor at the Law School, the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic drafted and submitted a supplemental brief to the Bloomington Immigration Court explaining how those BIA decisions supported the client’s eligibility for asylum based on her particular social group: married women from El Salvador who are unable to leave the relationship.

In August 2014, the BIA published a decision (Matter of A-R-C-G-) recognizing the viability of asylum claims made by victims of domestic violence. Student attorney So Yeon Woo (’16), under the supervision of Professors Meili and Good and teaching fellow Kate Evans, drafted and submitted another supplemental brief in support of the client’s application for asylum and successfully negotiated agreement by the government to jointly seek the Immigration Court’s approval of the client’s asylum application. On April 2, 2015, the Immigration Court agreed and granted asylum.

As an asylee, the client is finally able to begin the process of reuniting with her children, who remained in El Salvador for years while she waited for a decision on her asylum application. The Immigration and Human Rights Clinic is assisting in their reunification by petitioning for the client’s children to come to the United States.

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