Racist thumb Jeff Sessions has issued a new, stomach-churning decree: On Monday, he instructed immigration judges to reject asylum applications from victims fleeing domestic violence or gang violence. This will block “tens of thousands of people, especially women, from seeking refuge in America,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
From Sessions’ decision (emphasis mine):
Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum. 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. 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.
In a speech announcing the decision earlier on Monday, Sessions said, “Asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems—even all serious problems— that people face every day all over the world.”
Sessions also announced that the administration is hiring “more than 100 new immigration judges this calendar year” and expects each judge to clear 700 cases a year, on average, while adhering to the new decision.
Sessions’s announcement is a reversal of previous Justice Department immigration appeal’s court decisions that specifically included domestic violence as grounds for granting asylum. In 2014, the Department of Justice argued that a Guatemalan woman feeling an abusive marriage had a right to seek asylum, explaining that “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship” are a persecuted class. The social group “is composed of members who share the common immutable characteristic of gender,” the decision read. “Moreover, marital status can be an immutable characteristic where the individual is unable to leave the relationship.”
“Today’s decision by the Attorney General is yet another attempt to close our doors,” Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council, told the Washington Post. “Turning our backs on victims of violence and deporting them to grave danger should not be the legacy sought by any administration.”