Irma Medrano: Don’t Send Me Back to My Abuser

In 1995, Irma Medrano fled El Salvador after being subject to horrible abuse at the hands of her husband. For years he had routinely beaten her, strangled her with a leather belt and threatened to kill her. Every time she complained to the Salvadoran police she was told that they would not intervene in a private family matter; he was, after all, her husband. Hapless and terrified, Medrano came to the San Francisco Bay Area and took refuge with her sister, hoping to begin a new life and eventually bring her children, whom she had left behind with relatives. Today she faces imminent deportation back to El Salvador–and the potential wrath of her husband.

The Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has not yet made a decision regarding a motion to allow her to apply for asylum, but the Department of Homeland Security denied her request to wait for the BIA’s decision before deporting her. Despite reports from Medrano’s family members in El Salvador that her abuser has started to look for her after hearing she might be deported, and that Salvadoran police have never been able to protect her, lawyers from the Department of Homeland Security argued for her deportation, saying:

The government and police of El Salvador are far more willing and far better able address (Medrano’s) concern regarding her husband.

Their position is questioned by Karen Musalo, a scholar at the Center for Immigration and Refugee Studies, who has done extensive research on El Salvador and asserts that DHS claims are “totally and verifiably false”. The Overseas Security Advisory Council, a U.S government organization, listed El Salvador as “one of the most violent countries in the world” in 2010.  The OSAC also noted a 10 percent increase in the number of rapes in El Salvador from 2008 to 2009, adding that not even 20 percent of rapes in the country are even reported.

The failure of the Department of Homeland Security to grant respite to Medrano is particularly troublesome in light of recent legal developments in asylum law: This past June, the Obama Administration recognized fear of domestic abuse as a possible basis for asylum claims. In that case, a woman from Mexico successfully petitioned for asylum on the basis that she feared persecution from a man who had repeatedly raped her at gunpoint, stolen from her and even tried to burn her alive. Medrano did not learn of this new legal development in time to file a petition before she was ordered to be deported. Her attorneys have asked the Department of Homeland Security to stay her deportation so she could pursue an asylum claim under this new basis, but it refused.

In the meantime, Irma Medrano, now 44 and the mother of two U.S.-born children as well, languishes in a jail in Yuba City, Calif., awaiting deportation at any time. She has told U.S authorities that she faces almost certain torture if she returns home, as her husband has vowed to avenge her fleeing. Irma’s only hope to evade deportation at this point is if Attorney Gen. Eric Holder or Assistant Sec. for Immigration and Customs and Immigration Enforcement John Morton will intervene and order a stay on her deportation.

Can you help? Please sign the petition to keep Irma Medrano from being deported:

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Photo of Irma Medrano courtesy of her lawyer, Aubra Fletcher.

Comments

  1. krystalimage says:

    Wow, that's so awful. I can't believe they would try to send her back even though all the evidence suggests imminent death, but I guess it shouldn't be surprising considering the dehumanizing rhetoric of all the anti-immigrant talking heads. Stories like these are the ones that should be talked about in the "debate" for immigration reform, thanks for bringing this to our attention

  2. FREE IRMA!!!!

  3. Genevieve Robles says:

    Free Irma! This breaks my heart. She deserves to live not in fear. She needs to be there for her children. No more domestic violence.

  4. smielydude says:

    please dont send irma back we know that as soon as she gets back to salvador she will have to hide from her past because her ex-husband is a crimanal, he broke her her daughters nose because she reminded him of her thats how insane the man is please help keep her here if not who know what will happen to her

  5. Quintaf1201 says:

    Some women come to this country because they want to live, They want to survive, these women were able to escape a life of abuse and violence at the hands of their own husbands, cases like the one Irma Medrano experienced at the hands of her abusive husband can only end up in more violencia against her or up to her death if Irma Medrano is send back to her abusive husband
    Please don't send her back, this is a tragedy waiting to happen.

  6. The article carefully avoids saying, but the fact that she's being deported means that she either entered the country illegally or stayed past the limits of her visa. It's terrible that she had to flee her country due to the police not arresting her husband, and it's terrible that she chose/was forced to break the laws to enter/stay in the US. However, if she does get deported, there are options for Irma. There are many Latin and South American countries with laxer immigration laws. They may not be as comfortable as staying near her sister, but Irma can immigrate to those places. It's a shame that she didn't do this earlier so that her children wouldn't be faced with the possibility of losing either the home they know or be separated from their mother. Irma rolled the dice and seems to be losing this one.

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