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Immigration Law

Matter of A-R-C-G- and Domestic Violence as Persecution: Assessing the First Two Years After a Landmark Decision

Alicia Triche, Aug. 2016- "If possession is nine-tenths of the law, application might be nine-tenths of jurisprudence. In August 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) published a landmark decision, Matter of A-R-C-G-, holding for the first time that survivors of domestic violence could be considered members of a “particular social group” under U.S. asylum law. The ruling did not mean that other legal requirements were excluded—issues such as credibility, burden of proof, and a government “unwilling or unable to protect” the applicant remained important prerequisites for a grant of asylum. However, the BIA did hold that “[d]epending on the facts and evidence … ‘married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship’ can constitute a cognizable particular social group.” If the purpose of A-R-C-G- is to require legal protection for domestic violence survivors who meet the refugee definition, it is falling far short of the goal line. In application, the decision is leading to substantially divergent results."