Los Angeles, Dec 29 (IANS) A Guatemalan mother of eight has been given asylum in the US as a domestic abuse victim, despite efforts by President Donald Trump to reduce protection given to migrants mistreated by their partners.
Julia Margarita Tomas, 34, managed to prove her life would be in danger if she returned to her country after repeated death threats from her husband, the Efe news reported.
“He told me that one day I had to go back to Guatemala, and that I would see what was going to happen to me,” she said.
“He always threatened me and hit me with a machete, all in front of my children.”
She said she managed to escape in 2016 with her five-year-old son Juan.
The immigration protection also applies to her seven other children who remained in Guatemala.
Immigration lawyer Alex Gálvez, who represented Tomas, said: “It is a great achievement because this may be one of the last cases approved under the argument of domestic violence lived in the country of origin.”
Trump’s administration has tried to restrict asylum granted to victims of domestic abuse and gang violence.
In 2018, then attorney general Jeff Sessions intervened in a case after an immigration judge had granted protection to a Salvadoran who was a victim of domestic violence.
The Board of Immigration Appeals ruled the victim had suffered abuse for years and qualified for asylum, a decision that paved the way for dozens of similar petitions.
Sessions opposed the ruling and said the fact that some countries have problems dealing with crimes such as domestic abuse or gang violence cannot be used to establish asylum.
The decision reached the federal court and in December 2018, Judge Emmet Sullivan threw out changes made by the attorney general and ordered the return of migrants who had been deported under the policy.
The case was taken to the US appeals courts this year, where it is still under discussion.
Gálvez said Tomas’s case is “proof that victims of domestic violence have credible cases” and added it would be difficult for the decision to be reversed.
Tomas said the most important thing for her is that her children will be able to join her from San Marcos, in the southwestern region of Guatemala.
Her abuser has been missing for a year, when the police forced him out of the house after he tried to kill their eldest son with a machete.
“If it’s not for the neighbors, he kills him. Since then they are alone in Guatemala, my mother has already died and I don’t have any more family,” she said.
It is likely to take up to a year for the family to be reunited.
“I wish I could have them with me next Christmas, it would be like completing the miracle,” Tomas said.