4th Circuit Finds Domestic Violence can be Legitimate Asylum Claim

The Fourth Circuit issued a published decision (which means it has precedential value which must be followed by judges within the 4th Circuit) which finds a claim of asylum based on the Salvadoran government’s inability to protect a woman from domestic violence is a proper basis for a grant of asylum.

The Case, (Ruth Jeanette Orellana v. William Barr (http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinions/181513.P.pdf) , was in part based on a stipulation by the government that “Salvadoran women in domestic partnerships who are viewed as property” can form a protected social group, and the decision lends substantial support to this position, even though the government apparently is trying to walk back this interpretation, claiming that the stipulation will be withdrawn upon remand.

This is an important development because individual cases of domestic violence are not normally sufficient to create the basis for an asylum claim. In this case, however, the documented failure of the El Salvadoran government, police, and court system was so well described that the Court of Appeals rejected the finding by the Immigration Court judge that the victim could be protected in El Salvador. 

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