Birdsong’s Refugee and Asylum Law students might wish to read the story of three children from Honduras who were recently granted asylum in the U.S. on the ground that their persecution was was based upon child sex and physical abuse. They were found to be a “particular social group” It will be interesting to see whether this decision is allowed to stand if the government appeals to the BIA. Birdsong believes that the decision should stand:
NY judge cites abuse, OKs Honduran kids’ asylum
By FRANK ELTMAN | Associated Press Writer
September 12, 2008
Texas-Mexico border in 2005 with one of their father’s friends, should not be sent back to Honduras, saying they have “suffered astonishing hardship.”
A call seeking comment from the attorney who represented the Department of Homeland Security in the case was not immediately returned. The government has 30 days to decide whether it will appeal the ruling.
The children’s ordeal dates back a decade, when Hurricane Mitch devastated their home country, forcing their father to emigrate to the United States. He was granted “temporary protected status,” a designation that allows people to stay in the U.S. for various reasons, including natural disasters.
The father, Margarito Mejia, built a successful home contracting business on Long Island, and left the children in the care of relatives in Honduras after their mother abandoned them following the hurricane.
He learned in 2005 that the girls were being molested by a male cousin and that Tony was being physically abused by another relative. The Associated Press does not identify victims of sexual abuse in most cases, but the family has gone public with its story and the children’s names have been reported by other news outlets.
After the children were caught entering the U.S., they were permitted to live with their father while their attorney sought legal remedies to keep them in the country.
Attorney David Sperling ultimately succeeded in convincing authorities that the children qualified for asylum under a legal term identifying them as members of a “social group” that was targeted for persecution. They were targeted, he argued, because relatives knew the children’s parents were in no position to protect them.
The judge agreed.
“It was a very, very long shot,” Sperling said. “Everyone told us that we would never win a case like that and in fact to my knowledge there’s never been a case like this in the history of immigration law.”
“They have shown to the court’s satisfaction,” Videla wrote, “that their membership in this particular social group was a central reason for their persecution and therefore have met their burden. The children’s vulnerability was the motivation for their caretakers to exploit, abuse and persecute them.”
When he learned earlier this week that asylum was granted, Mejia couldn’t wait to tell the kids. He drove to their school and asked the principal to see them because he had very important news.
“The kids wondered why I was there,” said Mejia. They asked him, “`What’s going on?”
At first they didn’t believe him; he repeated the news until it sank in.
“I was overjoyed,” he said, speaking in Spanish through an interpreter. “They decided to grant asylum to my beautiful children.”