Court: Woman Enslaved by El Salvador Militants Not Eligible for U.S. Asylum

A woman abducted and enslaved by Salvadoran guerrillas three decades ago is not eligible for asylum in the U.S. because her forced labor for the group “under threat of death” amounts to “material support” for terrorists, the main appellate body of the U.S. immigration courts ruled on Wednesday. The woman, who is not named in court documents, was “kidnapped and required to perform cooking and cleaning for the guerrillas under threat of death” after being “forced to witness her husband, a sergeant in the Salvadoran Army, dig his own grave before being killed,” according to court filings from the Board of Immigration appeals. The board ruled in a 2-1 opinion that despite the “horrific harm” endured by the woman, there is no exemption under U.S. law for “material support” performed “under duress,” meaning she is not eligible for asylum or to have her deportation order dropped. Immigration authorities issued a deportation order against the woman in 2004, and Wednesday’s ruling comes after years of litigation in the case.