Attorney General Restricts Asylum From Victims of Violence


American immigration and United States refugee crisis concept as people on a border wall with a US flag as a social issue about refugees or illegal immigrants with the cast shadow of a group of migrating women men and children.

If you are concerned about immigration rights, then it is important for you to know about the power that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has over immigration law. Typically, the ultimate authority over the immigration is the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals, but Sessions can set whatever precedents he believes to be necessary. He can also assign cases to himself. Recently, Sessions asserted his power when he decided to revoke a 2016 ruling by the board regarding asylum and those suffering domestic abuse and gang violence.

Restrictions and Requirements

According to Sessions, “sound principles of asylum and long-standing principles of immigration law” require the American immigration system to reject victims of severe domestic violence and/or gang violence, even if they report that they can’t get help from their government. He also said that he believes that this sweeping decision to turn away these particular asylum hopefuls is a reasonable solution to lower the overwhelming backlog of court cases. “We’ve not acted hastily, but carefully”, he said.

Fifteen former judges and Board of Immigration Appeals members wrote and signed a letter saying:

For reasons understood only by himself, the Attorney General today erased an important legal development that was universally agreed to be correct… Today we are deeply disappointed that our country will no longer offer legal protection to women seeking refuge from terrible forms of domestic violence from which their home countries are unable or unwilling to protect them.

Another major concern is if asylum seekers will be able to get a full hearing before an immigration judge. Sessions ended that opportunity for them in March and simultaneously made it easier for their cases to be closed. Furthermore, Sessions has set an unprecedented requirement on immigration judges to meet a quota of 700 cases per year.

Crime Victims Can Still Get Asylum

Although the decision by Sessions might seem bleak to many, his ruling explained that victims are not completely blocked from asylum.  One thing is for sure: the courts will have to be more discerning. Individuals in need will now be required to provide proof that satisfies stricter requirements. It is important that those who truly need help are adequately guided and represented so that they get the best possible chance to win asylum. If you or someone you needs expert legal support, contact an immigration lawyer now.