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Sessions Tightens Asylum Restrictions, Victims of Gang, Domestic Violence No Longer Eligible for Refugee Status

Sessions Tightens Asylum Restrictions, Victims of Gang, Domestic Violence No Longer Eligible for Refugee Status

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is directing immigration lawyers to stop granting asylum to victims of domestic battery and gang violence. 

Sessions made the ruling on Monday in a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) case from 2016 where a woman from El Salvador was granted asylum after claiming she had been sexually, emotionally, and physically abused by her husband. 

“Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum,” said Sessions said in a ruling. “The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes — such as domestic violence or gang violence — or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim.”

Back in 2014, the BIA ruled that a domestic violence claim could be made to obtain refugee status. 

“Depending on the facts and evidence in an individual case, ‘married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship’ can constitute a cognizable particular social group that forms the basis of a claim for asylum,” said the BIA in 2014. 

Prior to that decision, asylum was granted to those who have suffered persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or for their membership to a social group.

Three months ago, Sessions reopened the case with the El Salvadoran woman for his review. 

Immigration groups have comdemned Sessions’ latest decision. 

“In his decision today, the Attorney General has singularly precluded victims of horrific forms of violence from accessing the protections of our asylum system, effectively vitiating years of immigration law from Congress and the courts. This administration’s shameful anti-immigrant policies, including today’s decision, continue to imperil the lives of our clients and must be denounced,” said Luis Mancheno, an immigration attorney at the Bronx Defenders to CBS News. 

However, Session argues that “asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems — even all serious problems — that people face every day all over the world” and that the Obama administration offered “powerful incentives” for immigrants to “come here illegally and claim a fear of return.”

“The prototypical refugee flees her home country because the government has persecuted her,” wrote Sessions in his ruling. “An alien may suffer threats and violence in a foreign country for any number of reasons relating to her social, economic, family or other personal circumstances. Yet the asylum statute does not provide redress for all misfortune.”

Author’s note: Sessions brings up a good point, if we granted asylum to everyone who was the victim of a crime, we would have an influx of asylum seekers. Asylum should be strictly for political persecution. Most of these countries have so much crime there is no way we can be responsible for saving the victims. The countries’ law enforcement departments have to be held accountable and need to address these gang and domestic violence crimes accordingly. 

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