Attorney General Sessions Further Limits Who Will Receive Asylum in US

Senator Jeff Sessions arrives before the 58th Presidential Inauguration Parade at the White House reviewing stand in Washington D.C., Jan. 20, 2017.

In a 31-page opinion issued by the office of the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions further limited who is qualified to receive asylum in the United States.

The decision disqualifies people fleeing from domestic violence or other “non-governmental” violent crimes from being eligible to be granted a refuge in the US. Women running away from abuse from Central America and other places will be cut off from the US as a place to find safety.

“Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum,” Sessions said in the document.

This latest decision is just the latest move in an overall policy of limiting the immigration of undocumented people to the country. Just last month the Trump administration upped the ante by beginning to federally prosecute all people suspected of crossing the border illegally. This opened the door to the separation of families, especially children from their mothers or fathers, during the court proceedings.

People seeking refuge must prove they have a credible fear of persecution in their home country. In addition, that fear must be based on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Four years ago, the Board of Immigration Appeals decided that “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship” made up a social group under the standard. That helped women who were running away from domestic violence in Central America.

Sessions said the 2014 decision did not have the “rigorous analysis” needed to establish a precedent, enabling him to bypass the ruling.

“The mere fact that a country may have problems policing certain crimes effectively — 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,” Sessions wrote.

Gail Nussbaum

Gail Nussbaum has been involved in politics and diplomacy for over 15 years. Her interest in foreign relations, economics and budget policy has led her to her position as fiscal policy writer at Left Justified. Gail can be contacted at gailnussbaum(at)

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