Gender-Based Asylum Post-Matter of A-R-C-G-: Evolving Standards and Fair Application of the Law
22 Southwestern Journal of International Law 1 (2016)
20 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2016
Date Written: September 2, 2016
When I last studied this issue — the eligibility of domestic violence survivors for asylum in the United States — I concluded: “the absence of binding norms remains a major impediment to fair and consistent outcomes for women who fear return to countries where they confront unimaginable harms, or worse, death.” Despite a recent decision by the highest immigration tribunal in the United States accepting that women fleeing domestic violence can meet the refugee definition and qualify for protection, I could write the same words today. The 2014 ruling in a case known as Matter of A-R-C-G- marked a critical advancement in U.S. law. Notwithstanding, in the year since that decision, arbitrary and inconsistent outcomes have continued to characterize asylum adjudication in this area of the law.
I do not mean to diminish the importance of the A-R-C-G- precedent, a long-awaited and hard-fought victory. Issued by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA or Board), the decision constitutes binding precedent for immigration judges (and asylum officers) across the country who often have the final word in these life or death matters because adverse decisions are not often appealed, and if appealed, the vast majority are upheld. For thirteen years, from the vacating of the well-known and controversial Matter of R-A- decision denying asylum to a domestic violence survivor in 2001, to the issuance of the A-R-CG- decision in 2014, immigration judges and asylum officers adjudicated domestic violence asylum claims without the benefit of jurisprudential (or regulatory) guidance.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation