2011 Grantee Case Update From National Immigrant Justice Center

One of our grantees, the National Immigrant Justice Center, after receiving a 2011 grant has had an excellent result which it described as follows:

On November 14, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) issued an important decision to remand the case of Perdomo v. Holder, 611 F.3d 662 (9th Cir. 2010) to the Immigration Judge. In this case, the respondent was seeking asylum based on her fear that she would be subjected to harm in Guatemala, in part, because she is a woman. Her claim was denied by an immigration judge and the Board of Immigration appeals. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, however, strongly signaled that asylum seekers might be able to win asylum due to harm they fear on account of gender and remanded the case to the Board of Immigration appeals to decide the legal question in the first instance. As amicus curiae, NIJC urged the BIA to find that Guatemalan women constitute a particular social group for purposes of asylum. NIJC argued that gender is an immutable characteristic and, as such, constitutes a particular social group without additional factors. The systemic violence against women in that country and the nature of the harm feared by women in Guatemala establish the nexus between the particular social group and the persecution feared – giving rise to a viable asylum claim.

While the remand to the Immigration Judge does not produce the precedential decision that NIJC sought, this decision leaves open the possibility the BIA will issue a precedent decision in the future finding gender to constitute a particular social group. In early November, NIJC filed an amicus brief with the BIA making similar arguments in a case with much stronger facts and a more advantageous procedural posture. NIJC’s contribution to the Perdomo case may have influenced the Board away from a negative decision, leaving the door open to establish the precedent we seek using better litigation vehicles.

(November 2011)