USA won't give asylum to victims of gangs, domestic abuse

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

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.

Alleged false claims of persecution back home usually made by 80 per cent of illegal USA border crossers who seek political asylum seem to have prompted a crackdown. "Today I will be exercising the responsibility given to me under the [Immigration and Nationality Act], I will be issuing a decision that restores sound principles of asylum and long-standing principles of immigration law". Sessions reopened the case for his review in March.

"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. 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.

Last year, the Trump administration used an executive order to put a travel ban in place, banning refugees from entering the USA from certain countries.

Sessions became President Trump's attorney general after years as an immigration hardliner in the U.S. Senate. Many victims of domestic and gang violence seek protection on grounds of being in persecuted social group.

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In making his determination, he declared that a decision in a 2014 case before the Board of Immigration Appeals, which allowed victims of gender-based violence to claim US asylum, "was wrongly decided and should not have been issued as a precedential decision".

'"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.

A Charlotte, North Carolina-based immigration judge denied the woman asylum.

In a speech earlier that day, the Times reported that Sessions bolstered this ruling by saying "asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems-even all serious problems-that people face every day all over the world".

Steve Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor, said a key point in Sessions' ruling was that applicants needed to demonstrate that "the government condoned the private actions or demonstrated an inability to protect the victim".

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