US Attorney General excludes domestic, gang violence from asylum claims

Attorney General Sessions to Unveil Changes to Asylum Rules, Reduce Reasons Used for Asylum

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

The decision came hours after Sessions' latest criticism on the asylum system in which he and other administration officials consider rife with abuse. He said it will help reduce the growing backlog of 700,000 court cases, more than triple the number in 2009.

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.

But in the ruling, Sessions said such cases would be less common going forward.

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".

"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", he continued.

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They said Sessions' decision overturns decades of legal efforts to protect abused women. The policy would affect tens of thousands of migrants fleeing violence in Central America and seeking to claim asylum in the US. It overturns a 2014 ruling by the Board of Immigration Appeals, which held that domestic violence victims from Central American countries could qualify for asylum in the US. However, as the United States' chief law enforcement officer, the attorney general can intercede in its decisions to shape law. Cracking down on illegal immigration and tightening legal immigration were major themes of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

To seek asylum in the United States, one needs to qualify as a refugee, Congress decided in 1980. Such criminal prosecutions mean separating parents from their children.

"They continue to separate children from their families, and now they're targeting victims of domestic violence".

He remanded the case of A-B- back to Judge Stuart Couch in Charlotte, North Carolina, for further proceedings. "Today we are deeply disappointed that our country will no longer offer legal protection to women seeking refuge from bad forms of domestic violence from which their home countries are unable or unwilling to protect them". 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.

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