News

Immigration

Sessions Ends Asylum for Most Domestic-Abuse and Gang-Violence Victims

Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivers remarks in Washington, D.C., May 3, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal judges Monday to stop granting asylum to most of the tens of thousands of applicants who claim to be fleeing gang violence and domestic abuse.

Acting on his authority to issue decisions that serve as binding precedent for judges who report directly to the attorney general, including immigration judges, Sessions made the case that victims of “private” crimes are not entitled, simply by virtue of their status as victims, to asylum in the U.S. Rather, in order to be considered for asylum, an applicant “must show that the government condoned the private actions or demonstrated an inability to protect the victim,” according to the ruling.

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

The move comes after Sessions hinted at the crackdown earlier Monday during a training session for immigration judges. It is sure to be criticized by advocates of more permissive immigration policy as an affront to the humanity of asylum seekers fleeing violence in their home countries.

“There are many, many Central American women and women from other parts of the world who have been able to obtain protection,” Denise Gilman, director of the immigration clinic at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, told the Los Angeles Times. “Many women sitting right now in detention under these claims might lose their right to obtain protection and be deported to dangerous situations.”

Sessions, however, cast the decision as a return to the rule of law in his speech to trainees Monday morning.

“Now we all know that many of those crossing our border illegally are leaving difficult and dangerous situations,” Sessions said. “And we understand all are due proper respect and the proper legal process. But we cannot abandon legal discipline and sound legal concepts.”

Most Popular

Film & TV

A Sad Finale

Spoilers Ahead. Look, I share David’s love of Game of Thrones. But I thought the finale was largely a bust, for failings David mostly acknowledges in passing (but does not allow to dampen his ardor). The problems with the finale were largely the problems of this entire season. Characters that had been ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Great Misdirection

The House Democrats are frustrated, very frustrated. They’ve gotten themselves entangled in procedural disputes with the Trump administration that no one particularly cares about and that might be litigated for a very long time. A Washington Post report over the weekend spelled out how stymied Democrats ... Read More
World

Australia’s Voters Reject Leftist Ideas

Hell hath no fury greater than left-wingers who lose an election in a surprise upset. Think Brexit in 2016. Think Trump’s victory the same year. Now add Australia. Conservative prime minister Scott Morrison shocked pollsters and pundits alike with his victory on Saturday, and the reaction has been brutal ... Read More