US Attorney General excludes domestic, gang violence from asylum claims

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The woman, who is only identified by her initials, 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", he continued.

"There are many, many Central American women and women from other parts of the world who have been able to obtain protection", Denise Gilman, director of the immigration clinic at the University of Texas Law School in Austin, told the LA Times.

Sessions' ruling overturned a 2016 decision by the Justice Department's Board of Immigration Appeals that said an abused woman from El Salvador was eligible for asylum.


"I understand that many victims of domestic violence may seek to flee from their home countries to extricate themselves from a dire situation or to give themselves the opportunity for a better life", he continued. Some said the decision could have wide-ranging impacts on immigrants fleeing gang violence and gender-based violence, including female genital cutting or honor killings.

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 government does not say how many asylum claims are for domestic or gang violence but their advocates said there could be tens of thousands of domestic violence cases in the current immigration court backlog. 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 USA crossings with Mexico.

Sessions faces criticism in Congress for a recent policy that separates children, including toddlers, from parents who illegally cross the U.S. -Mexico border.


The attorney general did not reveal the specifics of the changes to the law.

To discourage people from coming to the United States, federal officials recently adopted a "zero tolerance" policy for illegal border crossings, criminally prosecuting people even if they are seeking asylum or have crossed the border with their children.

He remanded the case of A-B- back to Judge Stuart Couch in Charlotte, North Carolina, for further proceedings. "The Trump immigration approach is increasingly defined by immorality and depravity".


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