The US Government Is Trying To Restrict The Reasons People Can Seek Asylum, Starting With Domestic Violence
Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week overturned asylum protections for domestic violence and gang violence victims. This announcement could potentially prevent thousands of immigrants from getting protection in the United States. The ruling overturned a grant of asylum to a Salvadoran woman whose former husband raped and beat her for 15 years. Sessions told immigration judges that the ruling “restores sound principles of asylum and long-standing principles of immigration law.” This overturns a precedent set during the President Obama administration that allowed women to claim credible fears of domestic violence but now will make it tougher for such arguments to succeed in immigration courts.
The number of people claiming a credible fear of persecution jumped from 5,000 in 2009 to 94,000 in 2016.
"Asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems — even all serious problems — that people face everyday all over the world," Jeff Sessions said when explaining his decision to tighten asylum standards for women fleeing domestic violence and attempting to enter the U.S. pic.twitter.com/gQ9fFQoGBi
— POLITICO (@politico) June 12, 2018
To qualify for asylum, an individual must establish that they have a fear of persecution in their homeland based on their race, religion, nationality or political opinion. Few asylum seekers are usually granted full permanent entry into the United States. The process can take months or years while the refugee lives freely in the US while their case is taken up the courts.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says those seeking entry to the US are claiming asylum or refugee status on too broad terms.
If Attorney General Jeff Sessions want to bar Domestic Violence victims from seeking asylum as "members of a particular social group," because the category is too broad, then we need to include gender as it's own category along with "race, religion or nationality." pic.twitter.com/ZgWEz94zb9
— The Inanna Project (@TheInanna) June 11, 2018
“Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum,” Sessions wrote in a statement to judges. “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.”
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all people are allowed to seek refuge and asylum from persecution in their home countries.
Many on social media are angry at the ruling because it might set precedent on future immigration policies.
oh my god. Attorney General Jeff Sessions just overturned a ruling allowing victims of domestic violence to seek asylum in the U.S. — meaning that the Trump admin. will no longer grant asylum to victims fleeing abuse. This is horrific. https://t.co/xu6Z63ed0x
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) June 11, 2018
Monday’s ruling is the latest effort by the Trump administration to stop asylum protections for thousands of immigrants, particularly those fleeing rampant gang violence and high homicide rates in Central America.
The overturned policy means potentially thousands of victims of targeted violence will face tougher restrictions in the asylum request process.
If you’re a lawyer representing asylum seekers, you probably know a bunch of women and children who’d be dead today if what Jeff Sessions says about asylum law is correct. I know I do. Make no mistake: women and children are going to die because of what this white man did today.
— R. Andrew Free (@ImmCivilRights) June 11, 2018
Sessions said it’s still possible that crime victims could get asylum in the United States, but would have to pass a tougher test in the courts. This include showing that their country’s government is unable or unwilling to protect them and that they cannot safely relocate to another part of their country.