By: Jessica Leal, Student Attorney in the George Washington Law School Immigration Clinic and 3L at GW Law On November 26, 2013, my client, M-L-R-, won the opportunity to sleep at night. M-L-R- was granted asylum by Immigration Judge Paul W. Schmidt. She fled El Salvador after she was brutally raped and beaten by an MS-13 gang leader and was told that she would have to be subject to his sexual demands in the future.
This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the federal appellate court which sets federal law in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the Carolinas, will hear two cases regarding U.S. asylum law. In Temu v. Holder and Martinez v. Holder, the court will consider the contours of the protected ground of “particular social group.” The decisions in these cases will determine whether asylum law will be more inclusive or whether the law will shut many deserving applicants out of the protection of asylum.