An Immigration Lawyer On What Really Happens To Women Seeking Asylum

Jeff Sessions recently undermined asylum protections for domestic violence survivors. Before he made that call, here's how one woman pleaded her case.


Terry Lawson
June 22, 2018

Tags: Asylum, Domestic Violence, Immigration Process

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Services NYC (LSNYC)


While I have been working with immigrant survivors of intimate partner violence for over 10 years, representing Central American women in their asylum cases in immigration court is still a relatively new space for me — and one that scares me, given the stakes. I’ve represented women in their requests for orders of protection, custody of their children, child support, and the myriad immigration relief options available under the Violence Against Women Act.

The sharp rise in women and children fleeing unbelievable violence in Honduras — many of them end up in the Bronx after being processed in Texas — means that my colleagues and I have all had to step up our practices to meet the demand. It is harrowing work, and I don’t always feel equal to the task. But that representation is crucial, because 90% of those who are unrepresented in immigration court are denied asylum, in contrast to the 48% who are denied with legal representation.