The Los Angeles Times reported today that a three judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit granted Ms. Lesly Perdomo’s petition for review and ordered that her case be remanded to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to consider whether Guatemalan women constitute a “particular social group” and as such, be eligible for political asylum. The court also ordered the BIA to determine whether Ms. Perdomo fears persecution based on her membership in that social group.
In 2003, Ms. Perdomo’s case was heard at the immigration court and her attorney argued that she should be granted political asylum because she feared persecution in light of the ongoing violence against women in Guatemala. Her attorney presented evidence in connection with the torture and killing of women plus the lack of protection by the Guatemalan authorities.
Both immigration court and the BIA ruled that all women in Guatemala were too broad of a group to be considered a particular social group that would qualify for political asylum.
The judges in the 9th Circuit disagreed with the BIA and ruled that in the past, groups such as Gypsies and Somali woman facing genital mutilation (FGM) are considered particular social groups for purposes of asylum.
This ruling could potentially open the door for asylum claims of this nature that originated from other areas of the country that were denied by the BIA to be heard by other Circuit Courts of Appeals. We will see how those courts rule on asylum claims of this nature and determine whether the Supreme Court will one day hear one of those cases.