Long-Time Pro Bono Clients from Guatemala Granted Asylum

October 19, 2022

Cleary Gottlieb successfully represented Ms. G and her two daughters, all citizens of Guatemala, in their defensive applications for asylum in the United States.

Ms. G and her daughters repeatedly endured severe domestic violence at the hands of Ms. G’s  former husband while they lived in Guatemala. Ms. G fled to the United States from Guatemala in 2001, and her daughters fled in 2008. Cleary began representing Ms. G and her daughters in 2009, when Ms. G and her daughters sought asylum on the grounds that returning to Guatemala would subject them to further persecution by Ms. G’s former husband, whom the Guatemalan government was unable or unwilling to control. The immigration judge denied their asylum applications in 2010, and the Board of Immigration Appeals remanded their case in 2015 on the basis of intervening law.

After several postponements, the second merits hearing was held on October 19, 2022, before the Sterling Immigration Court. Following a four-and-a-half hour hearing, during which the Department of Homeland Security Trial Attorney strongly argued against asylum, the immigration judge granted Ms. G and her daughters asylum. The immigration judge found that they suffered past persecution on account of their membership in a cognizable particular social group of “Guatemalan women,” that the Guatemalan government was unable or unwilling to control the former husband, and that DHS could not prove that conditions in Guatemala for women had fundamentally improved. Even though Ms. G filed for asylum after the one-year deadline, the immigration judge found that her asylum application was not time-barred based on Cleary’s argument that changed circumstances in the form of additional threats against Ms. G, her second husband, and their child from her former husband since living in the United States excused her untimely filing.