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Asylum: Matter of ARCG-, 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014)

Case Summary

The lead respondent of this case was a citizen from Guatemala who had suffered extensive abuse in the hands of her husband. On many occasions, the lead respondent suffered from weekly beatings, burns from having paint thinner thrown on her, a broken nose, and rape. On December 2005, the group of respondents came to the United States and applied for asylum and withholding of removal. This was denied on the basis that the respondent did not demonstrate eligibility for asylum or the withholding of removal.


  • After supplemental briefing, the Department of Homeland Security agreed that the respondent did establish that she suffered harm that rises to the level of persecution and that this persecution was due to membership to the specific social group: “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship.”

  • The respondent suffered physical abuse from her husband from the week after she gave birth to her first child up until she left Guatemala in 2005.

  • The local police refused to help the respondent find relief from her abuse.

Legal Analysis

Standards for Asylum (a matter of discretion)

  • The asylum applicant must have a “well-founded” fear of future persecution.

  • The persecution feared must be based on account of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

  • The asylum applicant must be unable or willing to return to their country of nationality or to the country last habitually resided because of persecution or well-founded fear of persecution.


This particular case put in question the eligibility for asylum especially under the grounds of “membership in a particular social group.” This particular was often the grounds met with the most litigation. In this case, the particular group in question was “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship.”

In this specific case, the BIA concluded that the respondent was a member of a particular social group, suffered harm that rises to the level of persecution, and that this persecution was attributable to her membership to that social group. In the end, this case was remanded by the BIA and it was up to the Immigration Judge to make a decision regarding the respondent’s eligibility for asylum.


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