Board of Immigration Appeals Issues Decision on Particular Social Groups

The Board issued a new decision regarding “particular social group”. The Board ruled that an asylum applicant must delineate a “particular social group” before the immigration judge to be eligible for asylum. The decision is Matter of W-Y-C & H-O-B, 27 I&N Dec. 189 (BIA 2018).

The Facts

The Respondents, in this case, are a mother and son who are Honduran nationals. They applied for asylum as a member of a “particular social group”. Applicants for asylum may apply for relief based on their membership in a group that has been persecuted based on a protected ground. She was represented by counsel and defined her group as “[s]ingle Honduran women age 14 to 30 who are victims of sexual abuse within the family and who cannot turn to the government.” Id. at 190.  On Appeal, she argued that she is a member of a different group.

Was it a Particular Social Group?

The immigration judge denied her asylum claim, reasoning that the social group she advanced was not cognizable, and even if it were, then she did not prove that her persecution was based on the protected ground.

What Did The Board Decide?

The Board dismissed her appeal reasoning that it is unable to rule on the case based on a new social group not advanced before the immigration judge. The Board upheld the judge’s decision reasoning that the Applicant did not advance a socially distinct group to qualify for asylum. The Board agreed with the immigration judge that the group was not recognized by Honduran society as a distinct group, and even if it were, she did not show that her persecution was based on her membership. The Board denied her request to consider the new group since it was not advanced before the immigration judge. Thus, the Board upheld the immigration judge’s decision.

Lesson Learned?

The lesson learned from this case is to hire someone who has experience in dealing with asylum applications. An experienced attorney would have known to advance a cognizable social group in the affirmative phase of your asylum application. Attorney Ahmad Yakzan has represented individuals before USCIS and the Immigration Courts in their asylum cases. Call us today for a consultation to discuss your case.