Attorney General Makes It Harder for Asylum Seekers to Escape Violence

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has overturned years of immigration law in his newest policy that makes seeking asylum for gang violence or domestic abuse illegal. In an opinion released last week, Sessions overturns Board of Immigration Appeals case law that allowed for survivors of domestic violence to seek safety in the United States.

The legal decision was immediately protested by retired immigration judges and BIA members who called the opinion "an affront to the rule of law." The case that was overturned, Matter of A-R-C-G-, was the result of 15 years of cooperation between the bar, immigration judges, the Department of Homeland Security, the BIA, and the circuit courts. The group of legal experts asserted that the decision they reached as a group should be "immune from the political considerations that appointed cabinet members are subject to."

How People Qualify for Asylum

Any applicant for asylum must have a "reasonable" fear of persecution on account of their membership in a protected class: race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. The applicant also has to prove that the government is either not willing or not capable of protecting them from harm. 

If an asylum seeker is afraid of being deported back to their home country, then an asylum officer must assess the credibility of the fear. Most of the "credible fear interviews" in 2018 have been with people fleeing Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—where gang violence and violence against family members is most severe. More than 13,000 families went through the credible fear process at the Dilley Family Detention Center. Many of these families now face a far higher chance of deportation.

If you or a family member is seeking asylum, contact an immigration attorney immediately. Immigration lawyers are already trying to figure out how to challenge this harsh shift in the law. Call (800) 909-8129 to speak with us—se habla español.

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