Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



L-R- is a Mexican woman who applied for asylum in the United States in 2005. She is one of countless victims of gender-based violence, which in recent decades has become a matter of international concern and which policymakers around the world have taken steps to combat. The United States has been among the nations that have made eliminating gender-based violence a priority by passing such legislation as the Violence Against Women Act ("VAWA") and by creating two special forms of visas for victims of domestic violence. While great strides have been taken to protect immigrant women who are already in the United States, in the area of U.S. asylum (or refugee) law domestic violence has yet to be fully accepted by immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA")" as a basis for a successful asylum claim. When the United States passed the Refugee Act of 1980, it codified the definition of "refugee" as modified in the 1967 Protocol to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The Act also "provided, for the first time, a U.S. refugee policy stating that persecuted aliens who are present in the United States and who meet the definition of a refugee can apply for asylum protection in the United States.'