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AILA Objects to Reported DOJ Reversal on Gender-Based Asylum

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 03030441 (posted Mar. 4, 2003)"

AILA Objects to Reported DOJ Reversal on Gender-Based Asylum

Letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft

February 21, 2003

The Honorable John Ashcroft
Attorney General
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Room 440
Washington DC 20530-0001

By Fax: 1 202 307 6777


RE: Protecting Female Refugees

Dear Attorney General Ashcroft:

We are writing to express concern over reports that your office is planning to reverse course with respect to the Department’s existing stance on the protection of refugees who have suffered abuse from which their governments have been unable or unwilling to protect them.

On January 24, 2002, in the process of announcing the issuance of the T visa regulations, you lauded the courage of a woman who had managed to escape abuse and exploitation, and confirmed the commitment of the United States in providing protection to women in such circumstances.  Yet now, it appears that you are poised to refuse that very protection to other women who have been similarly abused.

After suffering many years of unspeakable brutalization at the hands of her husband, Rodi Alvarado Pena fled Guatemala and applied for asylum in the United States in 1995. Ms. Alvarado had sought assistance from the Guatemalan police and the courts but was refused official protection.

Consistent with international refugee and human rights law, and with practices in countries that share common values with the United States, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, an Immigration Judge granted Ms. Alvarado asylum in 1996.  The IJ found that the abuse that Ms. Alvarado suffered, together with the government’s unwillingness or inability to protect her, constituted persecution. But in 1999, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) reversed that grant in Matter of R-A-. In 2001, the Attorney General vacated the decision in Matter of R-A-, issued proposed regulations that recognized gender-related persecution claims, and directed the BIA to re-decide Matter of R-A- after the proposed regulations became final.

We have received reports from the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies and Amnesty International that your office is on the verge of issuing regulations that would restrict the scope of gender-related persecution claims, and to re-instate the BIA decision in Matter of R-A-.

AILA urges you to reconsider this reported action, and to continue the U.S. tradition of being a leader in the protection of women’s human rights.

Sincerely,

AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION

Letter to President Bush

February 21, 2003

The Honorable George W. Bush
President
The White House, Office of the President
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Fax: 1 202 456-2461

RE: Protecting Women Refugees

Dear President Bush:

We are writing to express concern over reports that the Justice Department is planning to reverse course with respect to its existing stance on the protection of refugees who have suffered abuse from which their governments have been unable or unwilling to protect them.

On January 24, 2002, in the process of announcing the issuance of the T visa regulations, Attorney General Ashcroft lauded the courage of a woman who had managed to escape abuse and exploitation, and confirmed the commitment of the United States in providing protection to women in such circumstances.  Yet now, it appears that the Justice Department is poised to refuse that very protection to other women who have been similarly abused.

After suffering many years of unspeakable brutalization at the hands of her husband, Rodi Alvarado Pena fled Guatemala and applied for asylum in the United States in 1995. Ms. Alvarado had sought assistance from the Guatemalan police and the courts but was refused official protection.

Consistent with international refugee and human rights law, and with practices in countries that share common values with the United States, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, an Immigration Judge granted Ms. Alvarado asylum in 1996.  The IJ found that the abuse that Ms. Alvarado suffered, together with the government’s unwillingness or inability to protect her, constituted persecution. But in 1999, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) reversed that grant in Matter of R-A-. In 2001, the Attorney General vacated the decision in Matter of R-A-, issued proposed regulations that recognized gender-related persecution claims, and directed the BIA to re-decide Matter of R-A- after the proposed regulations became final.

We have received reports from the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies and Amnesty International that the Justice Department is on the verge of issuing regulations that would restrict the scope of gender-related persecution claims, and to re-instate the BIA decision in Matter of R-A-.

AILA urges you to instruct the Attorney General to reconsider this reported action, and to continue the U.S. tradition of being a leader in the protection of women’s human rights.

Sincerely,

AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION

 
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