America to toughen screening of illegal migrants seeking asylum, Attorney-General says

12 June, 2018, 08:39 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Trump administration moves to block victims of gang violence domestic abuse from claiming asylum

The move overruled a Board of Immigration Appeals decision in 2016 that gave asylum status to a woman from El Salvador who fled her husband.

"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.

The decision, which immigration advocates are sure to aggressively fight, came as Sessions seeks to use the authority of his office to sharply change us immigration law to make it less friendly to asylum seekers. She said she was escaping from an ex-husband who had physically and emotionally abused her for years, even after she moved elsewhere in El Salvador.

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.

"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.

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Such a group can not be overly broad or diffuse, Sessions said, overruling a previous asylum decision which accepted married women who are victims of violent relationships as a persecuted group. "Today we are deeply disappointed that our country will no longer offer legal protection to women seeking refuge from awful forms of domestic violence from which their home countries are unable or unwilling to protect them".

The decision is counterintuitive for the Trump administration, which is at the same time claiming that violence by the Central American MS-13 gang is one of the most pressing and risky issues of our time, but then not allowing victims of MS-13 violence to apply for asylum. However, as the United States' chief law enforcement officer, the attorney general can intercede in its decisions to shape law.

In early May Sessions announced that any illegal border-crossers, including asylum seekers, would first be charged with a crime, and parents and children would be separated.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday that attorney general Jeff Sessions had issued the directive to immigration judges.

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

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