A Mexican woman with a history of domestic violence at the hands of her common-law husband was granted asylum by the Obama administration in a groundbreaking case that holds promise for future seekers of asylum with similar backgrounds.
The woman, whose identity in the press has been abbreviated to "L.R." due to the confidential nature of asylum cases, had first filed for asylum five years ago, but her case's implications will redefine policies that are nearly two decades in the making. A similar case featuring a woman from Guatemala had been pending for 15 years before receiving approval last December.
"The Department of Homeland Security has recognized that asylum should be available to women who have suffered domestic violence and whose governments won't protect them," Simona Agnolucci, a lawyer with the Howard Rice law firm in San Francisco who represented L.R., tells The New York Times. "Now the day finally came when the department said these are the criteria required to show a case for asylum."
The ruling in L.R.'s favor will likely begin turning the tides for international victims of domestic violence, whose claims have largely been ignored and dismissed by the asylum process. During the initial application, L.R.'s legal team was presented with a list of narrowly defined guidelines that would have to be proved in order for asylum to be granted.