Hernandez (defendant) is a Mexican citizen who married her husband Refugio, a United States permanent resident, in 1990. They lived in Mexico together until Refugio physically assaulted her on multiple occasions. Hernandez then fled to her sister's house in Los Angeles. Refugio followed her, and promised to seek counseling and treat her better if she returned to Mexico with him. She returned with him, but he did not seek counseling and severely battered Hernandez. She fled to the United States again, this time to Salinas, California, where she met her current partner. They attempted to move to Alaska to find work, but the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) picked her up and began removal proceedings. The immigration judge denied her application to cancel removal because of a lack of credibility and failure to prove that she was a victim of domestic violence. The Board of Immigration Appeals reversed the credibility determination, but found that she had not proved that she was subject to extreme cruelty in the United States as required by the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. She then appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.