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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

US will deny asylum to victims of domestic violence

Por Damian

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions determined Monday that exposure to domestic or gang violence should not be considered for the granting of the right of asylum, in an attempt to stop the wave of lawsuits. "A person may suffer threats and violence in a foreign country for many reasons related to social, economic and family circumstances. But the asylum status does not provide a solution to that bad fortune", said the official.

The decision is expected to affect thousands of asylum seekers from Central America. Sessions stated in a letter that decided the case of a Salvadoran woman (identified only by the initials "A-B") who had been beaten and raped by her husband for years. According to Sessions, the deciding factor for granting asylum is exposure to persecution or danger as a result of belonging to a group. That group, Sessions determined, can´t be indefinitely broad or diffuse, and thus annulled an earlier judicial decision that had granted the benefit.

As it is a case of appeal to an immigration court, Sessions has the legal authority to annul a decision of this nature.

In his presentation, Sessions also annulled an earlier decision that benefited a Guatemalan woman, in order to cancel the existence of a legal precedent. "The fact that a country has problems of effective surveillance against certain crimes (such as domestic violence or gang violence) or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of those crimes, can´t establish a request for asylum", he said.

This decision was adopted as part of the new policy of the Donald Trump government to stop the arrival of immigrants, particularly Central Americans fleeing urban violence. Most of these immigrants enter the US territory and surrender to the authorities to request asylum. Sessions had already announced in May that those immigrants would be arrested and face criminal charges, for entering the country clandestinely, and that family would be separated from their minors.

Earlier Monday, the US Attorney General had said that the asylum system was subject to "abuse to the detriment of the rule of law, sound public policies and general security". According to Sessions, "the vast majority of asylum claims are not valid". The asylum, the official said, "was never designed to alleviate all the problems, including serious problems, that people have every day around the world".