Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Gender Asylum Threatened

Rodi Alvarado Peña fled to the United States from her home country of Guatemala seeking asylum after having endured ten years of domestic violence and multiple refusals of protection by both the police and the justice system in her own country. Staying in Guatemala would have meant risking death:
Despite her repeated attempts to obtain government protection, the police and the courts refused to intervene. When she ran away, her husband found her and beat her unconscious. Desperate to save her life, Ms. Alvarado finally fled to the United States...
Fleeing to another country, a country where she would be protected from the violence of her husband, was Rodi Alvarado Peña's only chance for survival.

Now the United States is in the process of deciding if she will be deported, and her case will impact the fates of other women who have come here seeking asylum from trafficking, honor killings, sexual assault, and violence. According to the New York Times, Attorney General Michael Mukasey has canceled a stay in Rodi Alvarado Peña's case:
Mr. Mukasey sent back the case of the woman, Rodi Alvarado Peña, to the Board of Immigration Appeals, encouraging it to set nationwide standards for determining when women who are victims of domestic violence in their home countries can win asylum. The case, held up since January 2001, caused many other asylum claims of battering victims to stall. A lawyer for Mrs. Alvarado, Karen Musalo, said Mr. Mukasey’s decision raised concerns because the appeals board denied asylum to Mrs. Alvarado in 1999.
When Rodi Alvarado Peña was first granted asylum and then had it revoked by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in 1999, the decision to deport her "led to denials of asylum protection to women fleeing a broad range of serious human rights violations, including trafficking for prostitution, gang rape and honor killing, as well as domestic violence." Janet Reno, who was attorney general at the time, responded to outrage at the BIA's ruling by overturning its decision and ordering that the BIA "... issue a new decision in Rodi's case after the issuance of proposed Department of Justice regulations on the subject of gender asylum (read the regulations). Those regulations have never been finalized by the Bush Administration."

This case will set precedents about which women will be protected by the United States and which will be turned away, precedents that will speak volumes about who we are as a nation.

1 comment:

Casmall said...

Great Post. Taking 8 years to finalize these regulations just seems like another instance of the Bush administration "rule by law, not rule of law".