Published: Tue, June 12, 2018

Sessions: No More Asylum for Victims of Gangs and Domestic Violence

Sessions: No More Asylum for Victims of Gangs and Domestic Violence

On the heels of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement that domestic violence and gang violence should no longer serve as a basis for seeking asylum in the USA, immigration experts are warning that the decision puts many asylum seekers, particularly women, in harm's way.

The move by Sessions is estimated to impact tens of thousands of people, though exact numbers for asylum seekers who fall under those particular social groups are not knowable because the categories are not tracked individually, said Gilman.

The attorney general said during his speech his impending decision would restore "sound principles of asylum and long standing principles of immigration law". "I understand that many victims of domestic violence may seek to flee from their home countries to extricate themselves from a dire situation or to give themselves the opportunity for a better life", he continued.

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. In March, Sessions ended a requirement that asylum seekers get a full hearing before an immigration judge, making it easier for judges to close cases they deem frivolous or unlikely to succeed.

Michelle Brané, director of the Women's Refugee Commission's Migrant Rights and Justice program headquartered in NY, said, "Attorney General Sessions' decision to limit the reasons why people can claim asylum is a devastating blow to families who come to our country seeking protection and safety". As attorney general, Sessions has broad powers over the nation's immigration courts.

In immigration court, certain opinions published by the Board of Immigration Appeals, the highest immigration court, serve to set national legal precedent.


The attorney general did not reveal the specifics of the changes to the law.

Sessions has been unusually active in this practice compared to his predecessors by exercising his intervention authority to make it harder for some people to legally remain in the United States.

Hours before issuing his decision, Sessions said the asylum system is being abused.

A Charlotte, North Carolina-based immigration judge denied the woman asylum.

"Asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems - even all serious problems - that people face every day all over the world", he added.

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