Guatemalan Women May Become Special Asylum Group

July 21, 2010 7:00 am 1 comment

Two women in Panajachel, Guatemala.

Two women in Panajachel, Guatemala.

NEW YORK — In a few weeks, female Guatemalan asylum seekers might know whether their applications hold better odds.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that a Guatemalan might be eligible for asylum because she’d be unsafe in her own country.

This volleys her case back to the Board of Immigration Appeals, where it will be decided whether Lesly Yajayra Perdomo, as a woman, belongs to a specially persecuted group in her home country.

“How long it’s going to take to get back to the Board of Immigration Appeals, I don’t know,” Perdomo’s lawyer, Alan D. Hutchison, told Latin American News Dispatch.

Hutchison said it could take weeks for the case to migrate to the Board.

Perdomo has been fighting deportation since 2003 and argues she would be targeted as a woman in Guatemala.

“She’s been here for the last 18 years,” Hutchison said, adding that she continues to work as a secretary and live her normal life while awaiting the decision.

Activists have long accused Guatemala of femicide. Since 2000, more than 3,800 women have been murdered in Guatemala, according to the Center for Gender and Refuge Studies at University of California’s Hastings College of the Law.

Perdomo, who lives in Reno, Nev., came to the United States in 1991, as a 16-year-old trying to join her mother.

If the Board of Immigration decides that Perdomo deserves asylum, it could open the door to other Guatemalan women who can prove that they’re legitimately afraid of being murdered if deported.

In Perdomo’s case, she requested asylum “because she feared persecution as a member of a particular social group consisting of women between the ages of fourteen and forty,” CNN reported.

The Board of Immigration Appeals agreed with an immigration judge rejecting that argument.

However, the new ruling requires further review of her case by the Board.

Perdomo hadn’t specifically faced persecution in her home country, Hutchison told NPR, but she fled during the civil war and grew up “as an American.”

Not only are women murdered at a high rate, Hutchison said, but Guatemalans coming from the U.S. are at particular risk because “they’re recognized as American and considered rich.”

In the same news report, Mark Krikorian, from the Center for Immigration Studies, called the potential ruling “breathtakingly irresponsible.”

“What we’re talking about here is potentially granting asylum to someone simply because she’s a woman,” he said, later adding, “This opens the door, frankly, to very promiscuous use of asylum.”

The Center for Gender and Refuge Studies highlighted another case of a Guatemalan woman fleeing violence in her home country.

Rodi Alvarado applied for asylum in the United States (.pdf) after her husband, a former soldier who she married at 16, assaulted her for ten years. Several times, when she tried to leave, her husband tracked her down and brought her back, and Alvarado said she found no help in the Guatemalan courts or police.

She applied in 1996 after fleeing to the U.S., winning asylum after an immigration judge ruled that she had suffered persecution in Guatemala.

Other Guatemalans also deserve special status, according to members of House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. Last week, some members wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to grant temporary protected status to Guatemalans living in the United States.

After Tropical Storm Agatha and the country’s Pacaya Volcano erupting, floods and mudslides left 174 people dead and more than 100,000 homeless.

“Extending TPS to Guatemalans currently living in the United States would provide significant humanitarian benefits,” they wrote in the letter.

The politicians argued that citizens of both Honduras and El Salvador received temporary protected status, extended until 2012.

Image: Marlin Harms @ Flickr.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply


Other News

  • Chile Southern Cone Today in Latin America Pinochet Bodyguard and Ex-Mayor Arrested in Santiago

    Pinochet Bodyguard and Ex-Mayor Arrested in Santiago

    Top Story — Chilean authorities have arrested a former aide to Gen. Augusto Pinochet, accusing him of committing various atrocities under the 1973-1990 military dictatorship. A judge on Monday ordered the arrest of retired military colonel Cristian Labbe on charges of “unlawful association” with a group that ultimately became the DINA secret police force. Labbe was allegedly involved in the murder of 13 people under Pinochet’s dictatorship. Those 13 people, investigators found, were tortured and executed at the notorious Tejas […]

    Read more →
  • Caribbean Cuba Today in Latin America Latin American Ministers Will Meet in Havana to Discuss Ebola Fight

    Latin American Ministers Will Meet in Havana to Discuss Ebola Fight

    Top Story — Top health officials from several Latin American countries are meeting today in Havana, Cuba, to discuss joint efforts to combat Ebola, as fears grow over the virus’ potential to spread to the region. Leaders from the socialist ALBA bloc, which includes Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and several Caribbean countries, will meet to coordinate efforts following unilateral travel bans by several countries in the region. On Saturday, retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro penned a column in the […]

    Read more →
  • Brazil Southern Cone Today in Latin America Brazilian Man Confesses to Killing 39 People, Attempts Suicide in Jail

    Brazilian Man Confesses to Killing 39 People, Attempts Suicide in Jail

    Top Story — A Brazilian man confessed to committing at least 39 murders after police arrested him in the city of Goiânia on Thursday after a 70-day investigation. Thiago Henrique Gomes de Rocha, a 26-year-old security guard, seems to have targeted women, homeless people and homosexuals. De Rocha, who committed the murders over three years, approached his victims on a motorcycle before demanding their belongings and then shooting them. Police noted de Rocha’s “coldness” and extreme rage when recounting his […]

    Read more →
  • Andes Today in Latin America Venezuela Falling Oil Prices Raise Worries of Venezuela Default, Crisis

    Falling Oil Prices Raise Worries of Venezuela Default, Crisis

    Top Story — Analysts are worried about a new phase of economic chaos in Venezuela as falling oil prices continue to take their toll. Insurance rates on the country’s debt shot up Wednesday to a new high, more than three times the size of the rate in late June, after a drop in oil prices raised worries the country may fail to pay off its obligations to foreign bondholders. The spike in Venezuela’s bond insurance rates means it costs investors […]

    Read more →
  • Caribbean Haiti North America Today in Latin America U.N. Extends Controversial Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti

    U.N. Extends Controversial Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti

    Top Story — The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) will be renewed for another year, the U.N. Security Council announced on Tuesday. The council, composed of 15 nations, unanimously decided to renew the MINUSTAH mandate, though the number of military personnel in Haiti will be reduced from 5,000 to 2,370. The number of police personnel will remain unchanged. MINUSTAH was initially created in 2004 after former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in a coup, leading to violence and […]

    Read more →
  • Mexico North America Today in Latin America Mexican Radio Host Shot Dead on the Air

    Mexican Radio Host Shot Dead on the Air

    Top Story — Mexican activist and radio host Atilano Roman Tirado was shot on-air during his weekly program Oct. 11 in the state of Sinaloa. Two gunmen forced their way into the radio studio of Fiesta Mexicana where Tirado hosted his Saturday morning program “Así es mi Tierra.” Listeners of the program could hear a shot fired around 10:40 a.m. followed by a co-worker’s voice saying, “he killed him.” Programming on the station did not resume for another 30 minutes. […]

    Read more →
  • Andes Bolivia Dispatches Bolivians in New York Cast Votes for President, Favoring Opposition

    Bolivians in New York Cast Votes for President, Favoring Opposition

    NEW YORK – When Bolivians in New York City cast their votes in a presidential election Sunday, most of them went against the trend that swept President Evo Morales into his third term. While Morales won around 60 percent of the vote in Bolivia, New York voters gave him just over a quarter of their vote, preferring instead the opposition candidate Samuel Doria Medina. The remote election in New York was held at a public school in the Latino enclave […]

    Read more →
  • Mexico North America Today in Latin America Mexico Arrests Another Drug Cartel Kingpin

    Mexico Arrests Another Drug Cartel Kingpin

    Top Story – Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, alleged leader of Mexico’s Juarez cartel, was captured in the Mexican city of Torreon, the Associated Press reports. This is the second arrest in two weeks of a major Mexican cartel leader, following that of Hector Beltrán Leyva, of the Beltran Leyva organization on Oct. 1. Nicknamed “The Viceroy,” or “The General,” Fuentes had a $5 million reward for his arrest in the United States and a $2.2 million reward in Mexico. He took […]

    Read more →
  • Mexico North America Photo Essays United States Leftist Groups in New York Protest Student Killings in Mexico

    Leftist Groups in New York Protest Student Killings in Mexico

    NEW YORK — Dozens of activists congregated outside the Mexican consulate to protest the Sept. 26 attack in Mexico’s Guerrero state that left six dead, 25 injured and at least 43 students missing. Authorities have detained at least 22 police officers suspected of involvement in the attack. Activists in Mexico held similar protests in at least 63 cities. Cities as far away as Buenos Aires and Berlin also saw demonstrations in solidarity with the students. In New York, a handful of leftist and […]

    Read more →
  • Andes Blog Today in Latin America Venezuela Shootout Between Authorities and Militiamen Leaves Five Dead in Caracas

    Shootout Between Authorities and Militiamen Leaves Five Dead in Caracas

    Top Story — A shootout between Venezuelan police and pro-government militia members in downtown Caracas left five dead and four injured. A high-profile militia leader anticipated his own death during the raid when he announced on camera that the minister of the interior should be to blame for any attempts on his life. The hostilities began early on Tuesday, when police raided a high-rise building allegedly occupied by pro-government loyalists. One militiaman died in the initial clash, leading to an […]

    Read more →