Unpublished BIA decision on A-R-C-G- Asylum Claim for Unmarried Woman in Short-Term Relationship

We had a big win for an asylum client recently! The client, H-R-M-, is from Honduras. She was detained for a brief period in Dilley, Texas with her two children. She fled severe domestic violence at the hands of the father of one of her children. The Immigration Judge denied her case, finding that she did not qualify for asylum based on domestic violence, because she was not married to her abuser and her relationship with her abuser was one of short duration. We appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, who agreed that their decision in Matter of A-R-C-G- covered this type of claim. The Board decided that marriage is not required in an A-R-C-G- claim, and that a short-term relationship could suffice based on the particular circumstances of the case. The client's order granting her asylum was signed last week. 

It is a nice feeling to be a small part of changing the lives of people seeking safety in the United States. We will continue to fight to #endfamilydetention!

More Artesia News: Lawyers Describe Fear of Detainees

Lawyers Describe Fear of Retaliation at Detention Center in Artesia.

People from across New Mexico gathered at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia Sunday to protest the detention of hundreds of Central American migrants.

Women and children who’ve been detained by the federal government for entering the US illegally waved and cheered from behind a barbed wire fence as attorney María Andrade addressed a crowd of around three hundred marchers Sunday afternoon. She read from a letter her client had given her.

"I am here with my 11 year old daughter. She has lost 15 pounds here," the letter read. "There is no medicine here, they treat us very badly, and the children are suffering."

Andrade and other lawyers say many of the women complain of a lack of medication and healthy food for their kids. They can’t afford bonds when they’re offered, and some sick kids have waited days to see a doctor.

Attorney Christina Brown shows me a folded sheet of notebook paper covered in a child’s handwriting and says lawyers have about 15 letters from women and children who are being held.

"This is from the child of this mother, and she talks about mostly how sick all these kids are, and how they can’t get medicine in there," Brown said, adding that the detainees slipped the letters to the lawyers in secret.

"They are very clandestine trade-offs. People come in and pull papers out of their bras because they don’t want repercussions from ICE. It’s very jailhouse-like, it’s sad that people can’t freely talk to their attorneys here."

There are around 600 Central Americans detained in Artesia, part of a wave of tens of thousands of immigrants who have crossed the border illegally this year. Several hundred have been deported. One 11 year-old boy was released when officials discovered he was an American citizen.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have not allowed KUNM or other news media to talk to the detainees themselves.

After a Month in Artesia

I left Artesia on Saturday morning after about a month of volunteering. In that month, the days were approximately 16-19 hours long and full of horrific stories and circumstances that attorneys outside of Artesia can barely begin to imagine. So it’s not surprising I’m sure, to those who have volunteered in Artesia and have returned home, that I am struggling to process the emotional toll that this work has taken.

Every day, I think about how this system is broken, and about how shocking it is that people outside of Artesia don’t seem to know or care. I think about the flagrant violations of the rights of these women, on top of everything else they have endured, and how much of a betrayal that must be to those who thought the United States would help them escape these desperate situations in their home countries.

As an attorney, justice and the rule of law are two things that are so important to the foundation of my career that it hurts me deeply when I see the mockery of U.S. law that this system embodies. As an attorney, I usually trust judges to have an even deeper appreciation of our legal system, and to that end, I feel that we are on the same side in many ways. In Artesia, all of these ideas and beliefs are suspended, and any belief I had in the legal system in the United States crushed.

This is politics, pure and simple. It’s disgusting that the matters of life and death these women face are purely political in the eyes of people I normally trust to uphold the laws of the United States. It’s disgusting that the government argues against bond for these women without having stepped foot into the hellhole that they now call home. It’s disgusting that they would send women and children to their deaths, without affording them their rights under the law to have their cases heard, just to make an example of them.

I am so hurt, offended, disillusioned, and panic-stricken by the events unfolding in Artesia. All I can do as an individual is try my best to contribute my time in any way I can, whether that be coordinating volunteers, taking on individual cases, or helping people argue for bond. My grief and anxiety are paralyzing, and it is all I can do to focus on the underlying feelings of determination and strength that these women show me on a daily basis so that I can continue to move forward.

I appreciate the work of everyone in Artesia currently, as well as the work of those who have returned home. All of us together are giving these women something, even if it’s not all that we would like to give in the end. They are being shown that there are people who care about them, who are willing to fight for them, and who are willing to accept them here in the United States. We will do what we can, together, to give them a fighting chance. I love you all. I wish you all the best of luck, and I look forward to seeing all of you again this fall.