WASHINGTON (CNN) — The U.S. attorney general is trying to prevent immigration authorities from sending a Muslim woman to her home country, where she was a victim of female genital mutilation.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey ordered an immigration court to reconsider an African woman’s case.
In a stinging order overriding federal immigration courts, Mukasey blasted a decision that said a 28-year-old citizen and native of Mali should be expelled “because her genitalia already had been mutilated [so] she had no basis to fear future persecution if returned to her home country.”
Calling the rationale “flawed,” Mukasey sent the case back to the Board of Immigration Appeals with orders to reconsider.
The woman, a native of Mali, begged the court not to send her back to her Bambara tribe.
The 28-year-old said if she returned and had a daughter, the child also would be subject to mutilation. The woman also said she faced forced marriage if she had to go home.
Mukasey cited what he concluded were two significant factual errors in the court’s rejection of her appeal.
“Female genital mutilation is not necessarily a one-time event,” Mukasey said. He noted that the board in a previous case had granted asylum in to one woman whose “vaginal opening was sewn shut approximately five times after being opened to allow for sexual intercourse and child birth.”
He also concluded that the Board of Immigration Appeals was wrong to assume that the woman “must fear persecution in exactly the same form [namely, repeat female genital mutilation] to qualify for relief.”