Matter of R-P-

This case concerns whether the Guatemalan government is unable or unwilling to control gender-based violence. Matter of R-P- is pending before the Board of Immigration Appeals after a remand from the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

CGRS Involvement

CGRS filed an amicus brief on behalf of Ms. R-P-, who is represented by attorney Benjamin Casper of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Basic Facts

Five men attacked and raped Ms. R-P- in her native country of Guatemala in 2001. She became pregnant as a result, and gave birth to a son. She did not report the rape to the police because she did not believe that they would provide any assistance to her. Rather, she thought that the police would harass and intimidate her. Given the severe trauma of the attack and her fear of further violence, Ms. R-P- fled to the United States.

Procedural History

In 2008, the immigration judge (IJ) found Ms. R-P-’s testimony to be credible, but denied her claims for protection in the United States.  The IJ found that the proposed social group of “Guatemalan women” was too broad, and that Ms. R-P- had not proven that the government of Guatemala was unable or unwilling to control gender-based violence.

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) agreed with the IJ’s ruling and dismissed the appeal. While her appeal of the BIA’s decision was pending with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, Ms. R-P- filed a motion to reopen the case with the BIA so that she could submit new evidence about the ever-increasing levels of violence against women and impunity in Guatemala. The BIA denied her request. Following the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Perdomo v. Holder, which ruled that “Guatemalan women” might constitute a cognizable social group and remanded for the BIA to rule on the proposed group, the Eighth Circuit remanded the case to the BIA.

On remand CGRS filed an amicus brief setting forth what we believe to be the correct standard for assessing whether an asylum applicant has established that her government is unable or unwilling to control her persecutors. CGRS argued that the BIA should reverse the IJ’s decision in this regard, apply the correct standard, and find that Guatemala is unable or unwilling to control gender-based violence. The case is still pending.

To learn more about CGRS’s work on violence against women in Guatemala, please visit this page.


CGRS amicus brief (April 20, 2012)

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