Attorney General Jeff Sessions excludes domestic and gang violence from asylum claims

Attorney General Jeff Sessions excludes domestic and gang violence from asylum claims

Sessions' made the unusual move to personally intervene in the case, known as the "Matter of A-B-" after the woman had won an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals to overturn 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", the ruling added.

"It puts survivors of extreme domestic violence in great danger, because it allows them to be returned to countries where their governments do not protect them against this abuse", said Denise Gilman, director of the immigration clinic at the University of Texas Law School in Austin.

Sessions' decision to reinterpret the law runs counter to previously settled USA law and worldwide law, she said.

That disqualifies most victims of "personal crimes", the Justice Department said in an accompanying statement that specifically mentions domestic violence.


Immigration judges in the U.S. are required to rule on cases according to the attorney general's interpretation.

Such cases can be appealed to the circuit courts, which are part of the judicial branch of government.

Domestic violence is a "particularly hard crime to prevent and prosecute, even in the United States", Mr Sessions wrote, adding that its prevalence in El Salvador does not mean that its government was unwilling or unable to protect victims any less so than the United States.

In the law's current interpretation, foreign nationals can apply for USA asylum if they claim persecution or fear because of race, religion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group or political viewpoint, the report said. "This is the attorney general trying to yank us back to the dark ages of rights for women". Despite President Donald Trump's tough talk on immigration, border arrests topped 50,000 for a third straight month in May and lines of asylum seekers have grown at US crossings with Mexico. "It will help you to rule more consistently and fairly", Sessions said, The Hill reported.

Sessions announced his decision this afternoon. Cracking down on illegal immigration and tightening legal immigration were major themes of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. In a speech earlier on Monday, Sessions told immigration officers that "asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems - even all serious problems - that people face every day all over the world".

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