Domestic Violence Asylum after Matter of L-R-
46 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2014 Last revised: 28 Apr 2014
Date Written: February 5, 2014
Women fleeing severe domestic violence have sought asylum in the United States for at least twenty years. Yet the legal system has been reluctant to understand domestic violence as occurring “on account of” gender or to see domestic violence victims as deserving asylum-seekers. Even after the Department of Homeland Security indicated its support for some domestic violence asylum claims in Matter of L-R-, there remains no binding legal precedent supporting such claims. This Note first argues that feminist theory and sociological evidence present a compelling case that domestic violence occurs “on account of” gender and that domestic violence victims may thus be eligible for asylum as members of a “particular social group” of women. The Note then critiques the weak legal framework that now exists for domestic violence asylum claims and proposes a novel regulatory reform to put such claims on firmer footing. A regulatory reform explicitly embracing domestic violence asylum would not only provide meaningful relief to many asylum-seekers but also be a significant symbolic statement of U.S. commitment to women’s human rights.
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