Asylum Door Opens for Refugees Fleeing Domestic Violence

Buffalo, NY – Refugees fleeing to the United States to escape domestic violence now have a better chance of gaining asylum. WBFO's Joyce Kryszak talked with local advocates to find out what impact it might have in Western New York.

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Last week, the Obama Administration issued a policy change. Domestic violence victims are now an allowed member group for applications to get asylum. The International Institute in Buffalo offers services to many women who flee countries to escape danger.

For some of them, that danger is inside their own home.

Amy Fleischauer is director of victims services. She said these women sometimes have no choice but to come to the U.S. illegally. But the policy change is not a guarantee of asylum.

Joy Trotter is director of legal services at the Institute. She said there is still a one year statute of limitations. And domestic violence refugees will still have to submit the same rigorous documentation, proving past persecution and fear of future persecution and death. And Trotter says a victim will have to show that her country's government sanctions the abuse.

But both Fleischauer and Trotter said they are optimistic about how many women to whom they might now be able to offer hope. They say the Obama Administration, largely through the efforts of Vice President Joseph Biden, is showing a commitment to improving overall DV policy and funding.