Domestic, gang violence victims now excluded from US asylum

US won’t give asylum to victims of gangs domestic abuse

US won’t give asylum to victims of gangs domestic abuse

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday overturned a grant of asylum to a Salvadoran domestic abuse victim, potentially excluding immigrants seeking refuge from sexual, gang and other forms of violence in their home countries.

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

In a deciding opinion on a case of an unidentified woman from El Salvador who was raped and beaten by her husband for years, Sessions said that asylum seekers must prove that they suffer persecution arising from their membership in a distinct group.

"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", Sessions' opinion reads.

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.

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

The attorney general said during his speech his impending decision would restore "sound principles of asylum and long standing principles of immigration law". Sessions´ decision followed his unusual move to personally intervene in the case, known as the "Matter of A-B-".

The inhumanity of the Trump Administration's asylum policy is staggering. Many victims of domestic and gang violence seek protection on grounds of being in persecuted social group.

'"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.

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.

Sessions said he made the decision in order to try and reduce the backlog of immigration-related court cases.

Earlier this year, Sessions declared he would attempt to ensure that every person who crosses the border illegally would be prosecuted, and he has staunchly defended a new policy of separating women and children at the border, including those seeking asylum.

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