Not a Lexis+ subscriber? Try it out for free.

Immigration Law

CA7 on VAWA: Arguijo v. USCIS

Arguijo v. USCIS

"The Violence Against Women Act added to the Immigration and Nationality Act a provision giving “immigrant status” (i.e., permanent residence) to an alien “child” who has suffered domestic violence at the hands of a U.S. citizen ... Arguijo was born in 1987. Her mother, like her a citizen of Honduras, married a U.S. citizen in 1999 and divorced in 2004 because of his violent behavior. Arguijo had run away the year before, when she was 15, to escape the abuse. The litigation presents a single issue: whether, after the divorce, Arguijo remained a “child” of her mother’s ex-husband. ... [USCIS] believes that a stepchild loses that status on the natural parent’s divorce from the stepparent. Because, in the agency’s view, Arguijo lost stepchild status in 2004, and only a person who “is” a child of an abusive parent may seek relief, the agency denied her application. On review under the Administrative Procedure Act, the district court agreed with the agency. 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6568 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 15, 2020). ...  [S]omeone who is a stepchild during a marriage remains one after divorce, when termination of “stepchild” status would defeat application of the substantive rule that abused stepchildren are entitled to an immigration benefit. ... [W]e hold that in the context of the Violence Against Women Act “stepchild” status survives divorce. REVERSED AND REMANDED."

[Hats off to Emilie O'Toole and Megan Thibert-Ind!]