Domestic Violence Victims Not Generally Eligible for Asylum


In Matter of A-R-C-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014), the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that a victim of domestic violence was eligible for asylum based on her membership in a particular social group comprised of “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship.” Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions overruled that decision. In Matter of A-B-, 27 I&N Dec. 316 (A.G. 2018), the Attorney General held that “claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence of gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will [generally] not qualify for asylum.”

To establish a claim for asylum, an alien must be “unable or unwilling to return to her country of origin because she suffered past persecution or has a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of ‘race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.'” When a claim is based on membership in a particular social group, the applicant must demonstrate

(1) membership in a particular group, which is composed of members who share a common immutable characteristic, is defined with particularity, and is socially distinct within the society in question;

(2) that her membership in that group is a central reason for her persecution; and

(3) that the alleged harm is inflicted by the government of her home country or by persons that the government is unwilling or unable to control.

“Furthermore, when the applicant is the victim of private criminal activity, the analysis must also ‘consider whether government protection is available, internal relocation is possible, and persecution exists countrywide.'”