Fleeing Femicide: Asylum Granted

Sadly, women in many countries fear they will be harmed largely because of their sex.  This fear can be the basis of an application for asylum.  RMZD to pleased to announce that we were able to recently assist a client in obtaining asylum on this ground.

“Rosie”[1] fled Honduras in February 2014 after enduring years of violent physical abuse at the hands of her husband.  Fortunately, Rosie did not share the fate of the 531 women who were reported murdered in Honduras that same year.  Rosie was able to escape the ever-present and even normalized femicide (murder of women) to come to the United States.  As stated in a recent article, “Honduras is rapidly becoming one of the most dangerous places on Earth for women.”[2]

Upon entry into the U.S., Rosie told the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officer that she was afraid for her life and was seeking safety in the United States.  She was taken into custody and given a credible fear interview to determine whether her fear was subjectively real and objectively reasonable.  She was ordered to appear before an Immigration Judge (IJ) in Louisiana.  The IJ said she could be released from custody if she posted a $7500 bond to ensure that she would show up at her future hearings.  She moved to California, where two of her siblings live, and sought representation by the attorneys of Reeves Miller Zhang & Diza (RMZD).  RMZD was able lower her bond amount about from $7500 to $5000.  RMZD then filed a motion to move the case from Louisiana to San Francisco, CA, which was granted.  During this time, Rosie was granted work authorization and issued a social security number.

The next hearing, where Rosie was to plead the allegations set in the Notice to Appear (NTA) and to file her application for asylum, was set for a few days after Rosie’s one year anniversary of entering the United States.  This is significant because an alien is required to file the application for asylum within one year of entering the country or forfeit the ability to apply for that relief.  To protect Rosie’s right to file for asylum, RMZD filed a motion to advance the hearing to a date before the expiration of the one-year deadline.  The Assistant Chief Counsel (ACC – the lawyers representing the Department of Homeland Security) agreed that Rosie met the one year filing deadline, and Rosie’s individual hearing (trial) on the merits for relief was scheduled for 2016.  With supporting documentation already filed with the Court, RMZD prepared Rosie for what would occur at her individual hearing. In June of 2016, Attorney Kwong represented Rosie in her request for relief in the form of asylum.  It was difficult to re-live memories of domestic violence and it was even harder to talk about it to strangers, but Rosie had been well prepared and understood that she must tell the IJ and the ACC what she had undergone in order to show that she was eligible for asylum.  She stayed strong and shared her story through the questions that were put to her by Attorney Kwong and the IJ and ACC.  At the conclusion of the hearing, Rosie was granted asylum based on facts and arguments that mirrored very significant case law on this issue.  The Department waived appeal, which meant that the IJ decision was final.  Rosie finally is starting to feel safe.

Rosie looks forward to applying to bring her three unmarried minor children to the U.S. to join her.  She also looks forward to taking advantage of other benefits available to those granted asylum, such as job training, counseling, taking English as a second language (ESL) classes, obtaining a driver’s license, and applying for certain public benefits.  In one year, she will be eligible to obtain her green card.  Life is certainly better for Rosie today than it was a little more than 2 years ago when she began her journey to safety.  We at RMZD are pleased and proud to have been able to help her.

[1] Name has been changed to protect the privacy of our client.

[2]Pollak, Sorcha. Anyone can murder a woman in Honduras and nothing will happen. Irish Times. 11 May 2015. <http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/anyone-can-murder-a-woman-in-honduras-and-nothing-will-happen-1.2207043>. 29 Apr 2016.

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