June 12th, 2018
The latest changes in the immigration form containing 31-page were announced by the U.S Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. Victims of domestic violence and gang violence from now on will not qualify for asylum as he announced.
He supported this decision by stating that these are “private” matters and countries should be able to deal with them on their own. He also questioned the claims from victims that governments and police were not trying to protect them in their home countries.
“Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum. 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, cannot itself establish an asylum claim” – he wrote in his ruling.
He further explained his decisions in his speech with immigration officials. He said, “asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems people face every day all over the world”.
There has been a debate about Asylum rules for the past decade. Proof must be given for all those who seek it in the U.S that they were persecuted due to different reasons. This includes race, nationality, religion, political opinion or because they are part of a particular social group. Recently, relatives of dissidents, LGBTQ+ people, and victims of domestic violence became included in this definition.
The more inclusive legislature was tried in the past by Obama’s administration. Central America was the target of this discussion due to the domestic violence cases. Extreme domestic abuse is one of the internal problems that these countries face.
Back in 2014, seeking asylum in the U.S for domestic violence was a valid reason. There were cases such as a woman from Guatemala sought asylum in the U.S just because she was abused and her husband used violence on her. She had suffered emotional, sexual, and physical abuse from him.
This included physical violence even when she was 8 months pregnant which led to premature birth, as the baby was born with bruises.
This case was made a precedent in many asylum cases from that day forward. However, the recent much-debated case of a woman from El Salvador was cited by the Attorney General. Women with initials A.B sought asylum for being a victim of domestic abuse. The case was denied by the immigration judge, although the Board of Immigration Appeals decided to grant the woman her asylum.
Just because of this ruling, Sessions reversed that decision and stopped victims from seeking asylum. Most of them will be returned at the border as their cases will not be able to go to immigration lawyers or officials. The veto power lies in the hands of the Attorney General and even if immigration lawyers and experts try to appeal, it will take many years until the case is decided.
There has been a lot of debate from Democrats and immigration advocates regarding this decision. House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, issued a statement saying that the Trump administration “just condemned countless vulnerable, innocent women to a lifetime of violence and even death, just to score political points with their base. This act of staggering cruelty insults our nation’s values”.
U.N high commissioner office for refugees stated that they are against this ruling. Using these actions there will be a violation of international agreements about refugees that the U.S had entered. The American Bar Association also denies asylum saying “would further victimize those most in need of protection”.
However, this advice was not taken into account by the General Attorney Sessions and the number of asylum seekers was increased. The number of Asylum seekers massively increased from 5,000 people in 2009 to 94,000 people in 2016 as he stated. In his viewpoint, the previous asylum was not backed up by compelling arguments that should be considered in order to receive it.
He wrote, “When an applicant has suffered personal harm at the hands of only a few specific individuals, internal relocation would seem more reasonable than seeking refuge in the U.S”.
Karen Musalo, a defense lawyer who directs the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California Hastings College of the Law also disagrees with this ruling saying that this decision will bring the country back in time when domestic violence was not treated responsibly by the government, and it was seen as a private family matter. She also added that this ruling is bringing the U.S to “the Dark Ages of human rights and women’s human rights”.
This rule was brought up by Trump’s administration in order to tighten immigration rules. “Zero tolerance” policy was recently announced by the administration towards illegal immigrants, stating that people that will try to cross the U.S border illegally will be prosecuted.