On August 26, 2011, NIJC filed an amicus brief in support of the asylum application of Mei Fun Wong. Ms. Wong is a Chinese woman seeking asylum because she was forced to endure the insertion of an intrauterine device (IUD) against her will. Her case was denied by an immigration judge and her appeal was dismissed by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in a published decision holding that forced IUD insertion is not harm that qualifies one for asylum.1 The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit considered Ms. Wong’s case and remanded it to the BIA for further consideration.2
In its amicus brief to the BIA, NIJC took the position that forced insertion of an IUD should be recognized as persecution for purposes of asylum because it is tantamount to sexual assault. Such abuse strips a woman of her integrity and autonomy and is fundamentally abhorrent. NIJC is calling upon the BIA to recognize and protect the rights of women as mandated under the law.
NIJC also argued that Ms. Wong meets the international definition of a refugee incorporated into United States law by the Immigration and Nationality Act. Through the course of her case, courts have rejected Ms. Wong’s claim because they determined forced IUD insertion does not amount to forced abortion or sterilization – which could qualify one for asylum under special language added to the asylum definition in 1996. Regardless, NIJC asserts that Ms. Wong meets the definition of a refugee and should be granted asylum because she satisfies the traditional elements of asylum. Persecution on account of a political opinion or membership in a particular social group can form the basis of asylum claim. Ms. Wong manifested a clear political opinion in opposition to Chinese one child policies. Moreover, her status as a Chinese woman of child-bearing age who openly resisted China’s one child policy lands her in a cognizable social group.
If the position promoted in NIJC’s amicus brief is adopted by the Board, it is possible asylum protection could be extended to women who are currently excluded.
Ms. Wong should be granted asylum. As a nation committed to respecting the fundamental human rights of all people and obligated by our laws to protect the persecuted, the United States should recognize that women forced to endure the insertion of an unwanted IUD are legally eligible for asylum.