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Ashley Michelle Papon
Aug 16, 2010

A Mexican woman with a history of domestic violence at the hands of her common-law husband was granted asylum by the Obama administration in a groundbreaking case that holds promise for future seekers of asylum with similar backgrounds.

The woman, whose identity in the press has been abbreviated to "L.R." due to the confidential nature of asylum cases, had first filed for asylum five years ago, but her case's implications will redefine policies that are nearly two decades in the making. A similar case featuring a woman from Guatemala had been pending for 15 years before receiving approval last December.

"The Department of Homeland Security has recognized that asylum should be available to women who have suffered domestic violence and whose governments won't protect them," Simona Agnolucci, a lawyer with the Howard Rice law firm in San Francisco who represented L.R., tells The New York Times. "Now the day finally came when the department said these are the criteria required to show a case for asylum."

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WASHINGTON – On August 17, 2010, the Justice Department issued a letter to chief justices and administrators of state courts clarifying the obligation of courts that receive federal financial assistance to provide oral interpretation, written translation and other language services to people who are limited English proficient (LEP). This month marks the 10th anniversary of Executive Order 13166 which requires federal agencies to ensure that recipients of federal financial assistance comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by providing meaningful access to LEP persons.

The August 17th letter provides state courts guidance regarding the requirement to provide meaningful access to their programs and services for LEP persons through the provision of language services, pursuant to the prohibition against national origin discrimination contained in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act (Safe Streets Act), and their implementing regulations. The letter includes an overview of applicable civil rights laws, Supreme Court precedent, guidance and illustrative examples of situations that would warrant the provision of language services.

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (WOMENSENEWS) - Despite its groundbreaking 1989 law against domestic violence, Puerto Rico suffers one of the world's worst rates of intimate-partner violence. Advocates blame the situation on inadequate funding for women's rights policies and weak political support for implementing the law. They direct particular criticism at the Office of the Women's Advocate, formed in 2001 to establish public policies with a gender perspective.

Verónica Rivera Torres, vice president of the Women's Commission of the Bar Association of Puerto Rico in San Juan, said that the Women's Advocate should fight for the funds that were cut under a major tightening budget in 2009.

The nongovernmental organizations "are the only hope right now, the shelters, the ones that offer financial services," Rivera Torres said. "But they are also in crisis because the Office of the Women's Advocate has had to cut its budget and therefore cannot distribute funds to these organizations."

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