Spousal Abuse Asylum—Worrisome Trend Threatens Credibility Of System

Spousal Abuse Asylum?
Worrisome Trend Threatens Credibility of System

Center for Immigration Studies
Contact: Jon Feere, (202) 466-8185, jdf@cis.org
WASHINGTON (July 19, 2010)

Many activist-minded attorney groups are working to expand opportunities for asylum by pushing analysis that contradicts the original intent and traditional interpretation of asylum law. One of the more significant recent efforts making alleged individualized cases of spousal abuse qualify for asylum has gained traction under the Obama administration.

A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies examines this development. 'Open-Border Asylum: How the Newfound Category of 'Spousal Abuse Asylum' Raises More Questions than It Answers,' by Legal Policy Analyst Jon Feere, focuses on the recent case of Rodi Alvarado Pentildea, a Guatemalan woman who claims to have been the victim of spousal abuse in her home country and who was granted asylum by the Obama administration last fall. Her case is part of a larger effort to lower the bar to asylum so that larger numbers of people can immigrate to the United States every year outside of numerical limits set by Congress.

Asylum is traditionally granted in instances where a foreign government is persecuting an individual; the new standard raises many legal questions by allowing for asylum based on alleged violence from individual actors.

The new standard involves individualized, unique, and potentially unverifiable cases of domestic abuse, providing a significant opportunity for fraud.

The administration has not explained how it will address the alleged abuser should he attempt to immigrate to the United States.

Individuals who can relocate safely within their home country ordinarily cannot qualify for asylum, yet the administration has not indicated how adjudicators should measure the abilities and failings of other countries on the issue of spousal abuse.

The administration fails to understand the importance of border security in providing meaningful protection from alleged abusers.

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The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution that examines the impact of immigration on the United States.