Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Sessions announces stricter asylum rules for victims of domestic battery, gang violence

Sessions announces stricter asylum rules for victims of domestic battery, gang violence

The woman, who is only identified by her initials, had won an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which had overturned a lower immigration court judge's denial of her asylum petition.

"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, can not itself establish an asylum claim", he continued.

"You have a woman who barely survived more than a decade of horrific violence, who finally feels that she secured safety ... and now she's thrown into total turmoil again", said Musalo, who directs the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California Hastings' law school.

Sessions told immigration judges in Washington that illegal immigrants are misusing the asylum system.

"They continue to separate children from their families, and now they're targeting victims of domestic violence".

The woman could still potentially appeal the case again to the Board of Immigration Appeals, then a federal appeals court and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court. The American Bar Assn. warned that ending the asylum eligibility for victims of domestic violence "would further victimize those most in need of protection".

"While I do not decide that violence inflicted by non-governmental actors may never serve as the basis for an asylum or withholding application based on membership in a particular social group, in practice such claims are unlikely to satisfy the statutory grounds for proving group persecution that the government is unable or unwilling to address", he said.

The attorney general's decision could impact thousands of asylum seekers and has sweeping implications for United States immigration courts.

In May, Sessions announced a stricter position on separating parents and children who attempt to cross the border illegally, in part to discourage people from attempting to seek asylum, according to Gilman.

Unlike the federal judiciary system, us immigration courts fall under the Justice Department's jurisdiction, and the attorney general can intervene.

'"Credible fear claims have sky-rocketed and the percentage of asylum claims found to be meritorious by our judges has declined significantly", stated the attorney general.

The United Nations High Commission on Refugees had urged Sessions against changing the asylum rules.

Fifteen former immigration judges signed a letter calling Sessions' decision "an affront to the rule of law".

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