Cases & Deals

Salvadoran woman fleeing gang and domestic violence due to her participation in women's rights group obtains asylum

Client(s) Client H.U.

Jones Day recently obtained asylum for the client, H.U., and her two young daughters. H.U. fled El Salvador after being threatened and attacked by MS-13 gang members due to her participation in a women’s rights group and after suffering extreme domestic violence. She arrived in the United States in 2014 and promptly sought asylum on two separate grounds.

First, H.U. sought political asylum. As a member of a women’s rights group, H.U. spent years working to combat gender inequality and improve the treatment of women in her community. She also actively recruited women who were suffering from domestic violence to join the women’s rights group, only to face death threats from their boyfriends and husbands, many of whom were members of MS-13. These threats escalated into multiple attacks, including attempted murder. H.U. repeatedly reported this violence to the Salvadoran authorities, but they failed to protect her.

H.U. also sought asylum as a member of the particular social group of Salvadoran women who are unable to leave their relationships. H.U. suffered extreme domestic violence at the hands of her partner, and was unable to escape him until fleeing to the United States in 2014.

Jones Day compiled a thorough record to support H.U.’s asylum claim and submitted extensive briefing, including numerous expert reports and primary source documents from El Salvador. At H.U.’s merits hearing, the Immigration Judge stopped the questioning less than half way through the direct examination of H.U. to ask the client questions about her participation in the women’s group and the resulting attacks from MS-13. The judge then asserted that the court found the client “highly credible” and granted H.U. asylum, telling H.U. that the attorneys had done an “excellent job” building a record to support her case. H.U.’s daughters will receive asylum derivatively. This decision is now final. H.U., her daughters, and the Jones Day team are thrilled by the result. The Jones Day team was led by Micah Doak (HOU), Joanne Caceres (CHI), Laurens Wilkes (HOU), Viddy Harris (HOU), and Greg Mitchell (CHI).