Catholic University Law Review


Lizbeth Chow


For over fifteen years, U.S. immigration authorities and courts have grappled with the idea of domestic violence as a basis for asylum. But in 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) issued a decision indicating that victims of domestic violence may qualify for asylum. This Comment assesses the BIA’s decision and concludes that it is ultimately ineffective. This Comment further suggests that the only practical solution is for Congress to intervene. This Comment first provides a brief historical overview of asylum law to help elucidate the purpose of asylum law. It also provides an in-depth review of the elements needed to establish a successful asylum claim and surveys how previous domestic violence-based claims have fared. Next, this Comment examines and appraises various existing proposals for addressing the issue of domestic violence-based asylum. Finally, this Comment proposes two possible changes to the refugee definition that would more adequately address the issue of domestic violence-based asylum. This Comment also anticipatorily rebuts the argument that granting asylum to domestic violence victims, as a matter of law, would lead to a drastic increase in this type of asylum application. This Comment concludes that the decision in In re A-R-C-G- does not provide an adequate solution for domestic violence victims seeking asylum. Moreover, it is time for the United States to amend its refugee definition to explicitly extend protection (via asylum) to domestic violence victims.