Mrs. G and her teenage daughter arrived in the United States in 2016. She was determined to seek asylum with her young daughter, at all costs. She and her daughter had fled their native country of Honduras because they knew that her husband would kill them if they stayed. For years, Mr. G had subjected Mrs. G and her three young daughters to extreme abuse in the form of beatings, insults, and death threats. She was raped by her husband so many times that she lost count. He was a man who hated women — he told her and their young daughters that they were worthless because they were women. He told them they belonged to him and could never leave him. When Mrs. G did try to leave him, he choked her, slashed her with a broken beer bottle, and threatened to cut off her hands or cut her body into pieces. When she reported him to local police, a police officer called Mr. G to come pick her up from the police station and never took a statement from her. One day, her husband choked her so hard that she was convinced she would die. This is when Mrs. G decided to flee. Because her other two daughters were young and one of them had health issues, she could only bring one daughter with her. Mrs. G suffered immensely due to being separated from her remaining two daughters but found strength in the idea of one day being reunited with them.
Mrs. G came to Lutheran Social Services’s Immigration Legal Program seeking assistance with her asylum case. Mrs. G and her daughter had been apprehended at the border and put into removal proceedings. They had a case in immigration court and were afraid and unsure how to proceed. LSSNY-ILP took on the representation of her and her daughter and appeared with them for immigration court. LSSNY- ILP helped Mrs. G and her daughter file asylum applications, assisted them with finding counseling services, and filed Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for the daughter — another form of immigration relief.
During the summer of 2018, a decision from the then-Attorney General came down, significantly limiting the ability of domestic violence victims to obtain asylum. Mrs. G’s asylum hearing was scheduled for a date only a few months after this decision. Winning asylum was crucial for her because this would not only mean she and her daughter would be safe in the U.S., it would also allow her to petition to bring her other two daughters, still at risk in Honduras. LSSNY-ILP attorneys worked very hard on Mrs. G’s legal argument to make the case that she should be granted asylum despite the Attorney General’s decision. They spent countless hours with Mrs. G preparing her to testify.
After a long and painful hearing in December of 2018, Mrs. G was not sure she would win asylum. Though it was extremely difficult for her to talk about what she experienced in Honduras, she had been incredibly brave and resilient during her testimony. The hearing was continued until July 2019 and LSSNY-ILP attorneys worked with Mrs. G’s daughter to prepare her to testify. In July of 2019, her daughter testified in their case. Her testimony was powerful, and she and her mother were ultimately granted asylum. The judge’s decision gave all of us hope that victims of domestic violence can still obtain asylum in this country and receive the protection they deserve. Soon after she was granted asylum, Mrs. G worked with LSSNY-ILP to file petitions to bring her other two daughters to the U.S. as derivative asylees. Currently, we are waiting for those petitions to be approved, so she can safely reunite with her family.