Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of February 21, 2011

Readers write in about immigrants seeking asylum in the US for domestic violence and wish retiring columnist David Francis a fond farewell.

Asylum for domestic abuse?

Regarding the Feb. 7 article, "Is domestic violence cause for asylum?": Domestic violence is as legitimate as grounds for seeking asylum as is persecution because of one's political beliefs, race, or religion. The vast majority of its targets are women, and to disallow asylum based on domestic violence would mean effectively discriminating against a status even more intrinsic than race.

Victims of domestic violence suffer as acutely as any other survivors of torture. The mechanisms of abuse include overt physical assault, sometimes life threatening; rape; and systematic efforts to humiliate and deprive the target. These can occur over periods of time that exceed what most torture victims can bear.

These brave women cannot and do not gain status in the United States unless they meet a further critical criterion: Authorities in their home countries must be unwilling or unable to protect them from their abusers.

We are proud of the Obama administration's record on domestic violence-based asylum claims.

Leslie A. Kimball Franck, PHD.

Licensed clinical psychologist

Assistant professor of psychiatry

Virginia Treatment Center for Children

Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, Va.

Julia Frank, MD.

Associate professor of psychiatry

George Washington University School of Medicine


Erin Hustings, JD.

Asylum advocacy associate,

Physicians for Human Rights


Seeking asylum for domestic abuse seems the latest attempt to abuse asylum laws and allow allegedly abused women to game the system to obtain US residency.

To gain asylum, individuals are classified as part of "a particular social group." The first woman to win asylum qualified as a member of the group of "Mexican women in domestic relationships they are unable to leave."

But millions of women in a similar "particular social group" already live in the US. Perhaps these American women who suffer domestic abuse should seek asylum in Sweden. Surely Sweden, with its welcoming asylum policies, can find room for a category of asylum seekers consisting of "American women who are viewed as property within a domestic relationship."

Michael G. Brautigam


Farewell, David Francis

Thank you, David Francis, for the weekly economic articles. They have presented the material in calm, reasoned, and understandable ways, without a political agenda. We'll miss them. Happy retirement!

Ned Gulbran


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