Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Victims of domestic, gang violence 'generally' won't qualify for asylum: Jeff Sessions

Victims of domestic, gang violence 'generally' won't qualify for asylum: Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled Monday that victims of domestic abuse and gang violence generally will not qualify for asylum under federal law, a decision that advocates say will endanger tens of thousands of foreign nationals seeking safe harbor in the United States.

In 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) had ruled in a groundbreaking decision that domestic violence could be a basis for an asylum claim. Gilman expects the decision will ultimately be reversed, but until then, she believes it makes a clear statement that the US does not want asylum seekers to come into the country, while putting vulnerable people in potentially deadly situations.

Our nation's immigration laws provide for asylum to be granted to individuals who have been persecuted, or who have a well-founded fear of persecution, on account of their membership in a 'particular social group, ' but most victims of personal crimes do not fit this definition-no matter how vile and reprehensible the crime perpetrated against them.

Sessions ruled Monday in a Board of Immigration Appeals case involving a woman from El Salvador whose asylum status was upheld in 2016 on claims that she was a victim of domestic violence.

The attorney general's ruling said it is still possible that crime victims could win asylum in the United States, but they would have to pass a tougher test in the courts, including showing that their home government is unable or unwilling to protect them, and that they cannot safely relocate to another part of their own country.

The policy, meant to be a deterrent, has sparked strong criticism and an accusation from the UN Human Rights Office that children's rights are being violated by the policy.

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Sessions became President Trump's attorney general after years as an immigration hardliner in the U.S. Senate.

Sessions declared that claims of domestic violence, or violence from criminal gangs that flourish across much of the region, do not meet the threshold for an asylum request at the USA border.

He remanded the case of A-B- back to Judge Stuart Couch in Charlotte, North Carolina, for further proceedings.

Earlier this year, Sessions declared he would attempt to ensure that every person who crosses the border illegally would be prosecuted, and he has staunchly defended a new policy of separating women and children at the border, including those seeking asylum.

Sessions also said it was the "duty" of judges to follow his orders and carry out his interpretation of the law.

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