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Abstract

In August 2014, the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) handed down a breakthrough decision, In re A-R-C-G-, permitting courts to consider domestic violence as a gendered form of persecution in a home country and thus grounds for asylum in the United States. Along with two other 2014 decisions, In re W-G-R- and In re M-E-V-G-, this case represented a marked shift from prior BIA decisions, which for fifteen years had interpreted sections 208(a) and 241(b)(3) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act more narrowly, thus excluding claims of home country abuse as reasonable grounds to grant asylum. Specifically, in A-R-C-G-, the BIA found that Guatemalan women fleeing domestic violence can be considered a “particular social group” (PSG). Its decision has been celebrated as a step forward in resolving contradictory and arbitrary outcomes that persisted in a vacuum of jurisprudential norms about the issue.