The Trump administration is taking more steps to inhumanely respond to immigrants looking for refuge in the U.S. According to the Los Angeles Times, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is ordering immigration judges to stop granting asylum to victims of domestic abuse and gang violence.
This comes on the heels of strict enforcement of the practice of separating families at the border, a move the United Nations has dubbed as a "serious violation," and moving ICE detainees to federal prisons. The new order would block thousands of people, especially women, from reaching asylum after fleeing violence in their home countries.
Judges will be required to take Sessions ruling into account when decided on asylum cases. Sessions issued this decision under the precedent that domestic violence is a “private” matter and does not make anyone eligible for asylum in the U.S.
“Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum,” Sessions said in his ruling. “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 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.” He claims this “ruling restores sound principles of asylum and longstanding principles of immigration law.”
The decision serves the biggest blow to women, many of whom flee Central America escaping domestic abuse and violence from gang members in their communities. “There are many, many Central American women and women from other parts of the world who have been able to obtain protection,” Denise Gilman, a director of the immigration clinic at the University of Texas Law School in Austin, told the Times. “Many women sitting right now in detention under these claims might lose their right to obtain protection and be deported to dangerous situations.”