Rodi Alvarado's Story
Rodi Alvarado was born and raised in Guatemala. In 1984, at the age of 16, she
married Francisco Osorio, a former soldier, who was five years her senior. Almost
immediately after they were married, her husband began to threaten her, and to carry out
violent assaults. Those assaults continued without respite over a ten year
marriage. Osorio raped and sodomized Rodi, broke windows and mirrors with her head,
dislocated her jaw, and tried to abort her child by kicking her violently in the
spine. Besides using his hands and his feet against her, he also resorted to weapons
pistol-whipping her, and terrorizing her with his machete.
Rodis repeated attempts to obtain protection failed. The police and the
courts refused to intervene because it was a "domestic" matter. When she
ran away, Osorio found her and beat her unconscious. He told her that she could
never get away from him, because he would "cut off her arms and legs, and...leave her
in a wheelchair, if she ever tried to leave him."
Desperate to save her life, Rodi Alvarado finally fled to the United States a
difficult decision because she was forced to leave her two children behind with relatives.
Shortly after arriving in the United States, she was fortunate to obtain the help
of the San Francisco Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, who arranged for Rodi Alvarado
to be represented by volunteer attorney and domestic violence expert Jane Kroesche.
These legal efforts were successful, and in September 1996, a San Francisco immigration judge granted her political asylum.
Unfortunately, the grant of asylum was not the end of Rodis ordeal. The
Immigration and Naturalization Service appealed the grant to a higher court, the Board of
Immigration Appeals (BIA). And in June 1999, the BIA reversed the decision of the
immigration judge, by a divided 10-5 vote, and ordered that Ms. Alvarado be deported to
Guatemala. The judges on the BIA did this even though they believed her testimony
that Osorio had sworn to "hunt her down and kill her" if she returns to
Guatemala, and that Ms. Alvarado could not get protection from the government in