Jane was granted asylum by the immigration Judge due to years of abuse at the hands of her cousin in Ecuador.
Jane entered the country unlawfully having crossed the US/Mexico border without permission in 2013. She was immediately detained and even issued an expedited order of removal while at a detention center. As she was being processed an officer asked her about why she came here and while she was reluctant, she decided to tell her story. The officer then referred her to an asylum officer who specializes in interviewing applicants who are fearful of returning to their home country. It was after being interviewed by an asylum officer that Jane’s story was found to be credible. Her case was referred to the immigration Judge and she was released from the detention center.
Shortly after being released from detention, Jane contacted the offices of Youman, Madeo & Fasano (YMF) in New Jersey. YMF was able to change venue of her case from Texas to New Jersey where she now resides. Her asylum application was filed timely, meaning that it was filed within the first year she arrived into the country. Asylum laws require that an applicant file within a year of first arriving or lose asylum eligibility unless one can prove an exceptional circumstance. Jane had left two children back in Ecuador but her husband was already in the United States when she arrived. As her case was properly pending before the Immigration Court, YMF was able to get Jane a work authorization.
It would not be until early 2016 that YMF began presenting the case before the Immigration Judge in New Jersey who found the application to be in order. After some additional evidence was filed, a final hearing was set in early 2017. At the final hearing, the Department of Homeland Security took the position that Jane did not qualify for asylum and asserted that an appeal would be filed should the Judge rule in Jane’s favor. The government offered to close Jane’s removal proceedings through the prosecutorial discretion (PD) program or risk losing and be ordered removed. Jane did not take the offer; instead she placed all her faith in YMF’s ability to effectively present her case.
The case was rescheduled for another hearing where Jane would finally present her case. Jane grew up in the mountains of Ecuador where access to hospitals are hours away. Her mother could not speak or hear. Her elderly grandparents helped raised her. At eight years of age Jane was brutally raped by her cousin. The cousin took advantage of Jane’s mother’s incapacity as she never realized what happened. Once her grandparents found her obviously hurt and bloodied, no action was taken to protect Jane.
In fear for her safety and in light of the continued rape attempts, Jane fled at the tender age of eight. She found work in another village. Once she was in her teens she was forced to go back home after her grandmother passed and her mother became ill. At sixteen, her cousin raped her again only this time she became pregnant. At seven months pregnant her cousin beat her so badly she miscarried. There were no hospitals or clinics nearby. Somehow Jane recovered and later on bore a child with her husband. Out of fear, Jane never reported anything to the police. Her cousin had a good position as the lead ranch hand at a local farm and she knew he could pay off the police who routinely looked the other way on such incidents.
Even after Jane married, her cousin continued his persecution. Once Jane’s husband departed Ecuador in search of employment, the situation worsened, the persecution intensified and fears that she would be raped or even killed by her cousin forced Jane to flee in fear for her life.
YMF argued that Jane, much like in the well-established domestic violence case of Matter of A-R-C-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014) was a member of a particular social group. In this case, “Ecuadorean women who are unable to leave domestic relationships.” At the conclusion of the hearing the government no longer threatened to appeal and deferred to the court.
The Judge found that while Jane’s case can be differentiated from matter of A-R-C-G-, Jane had established that she was a member of the particular social group offered. The Judge found that her testimony was consistent with her interviews at the border and subsequent statements offered into evidence. The Judge found that the evidence proffered from the psychologist and country conditions reports established Jane’s claim of persecution. The Court found that given Jane’s young age at the time the persecution began and the fact that it was a family member who others feared made it that much more difficult for Jane to escape her circumstances. The Court went on to note that domestic abuse/rape is often ignored and even tacitly consented to by countries such as Ecuador. Through the effective assistance of the team of attorneys and legal assistants at YMF, Jane had met her burden and was granted asylum.
YMF is now helping Jane file petitions for her husband and children who remain in Ecuador. Soon she will be reunited with her family and she can leave her ordeal in the past.