U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Monday that victims claiming domestic violence or protection from gang violence will no longer be considered as grounds for asylum.
Sessions made the announcement after a Board of Immigration Appeals case involving a woman from El Salvador whose asylum status was upheld in 2016, reports NBCNews. The woman entered the United States illegally in 2014 and sought asylum after claiming that she was a victim of domestic violence and feared returning because of her husband who “emotionally, physically and sexually” abused her. Sessions asked to reopen her case three months ago for his review, so it was no surprise that he was going to side in this way.
“The asylum statute does not provide redress for all misfortune,” Sessions wrote in a formal legal opinion. “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.”
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Asylum is currently granted to those who can prove persecution for race, religion, nationality, political affiliation or membership in a social group. Sessions, who is exercising his authority to overturn decisions by federal immigration judges, believes the asylum system is being abused. This is his way of attempting to prevent those who associate domestic and gang violence (typically immigrant women of color) with protection on grounds of being in persecuted social group. Regardless, in 2014, an immigration court recognized “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship” as part of a social group.
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Overturning this ruling, Sessions has said that the claims of the El Salvadoran women unable to leave their domestic relationships where they have children did not fit the law’s requirements. In essence, this country will no longer protect or defend immigrant women who are seeking a safe haven for themselves or their children.