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Critics denounce Sessions’ move to restrict asylum for domestic and gang violence victims

 

Immigration advocates and former immigration judges denounced Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ ruling this week restricting asylum for people fleeing domestic or gang violence, saying the decision could cost lives and endanger tens of thousands of people.

One lawyer working with immigrants, Kathryn Shepherd, called the decision “essentially a death sentence to potentially thousands of people fleeing harm.”

 On Monday, Sessions reversed an immigration court’s rulingthat granted asylum to a woman from El Salvador who said her husband had repeatedly abused her physically, sexually and emotionally. Sessions wrote that “generally” claims on domestic and gang violence will no longer qualify for asylum.

Only 20 percent of asylum applications were granted last fiscal year, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which handles some asylum cases.

Now, advocates fear that even more asylum seekers from Central America and Mexico will have their claims denied, said Shepherd, the national advocacy counsel for the Immigration Justice campaign at the American Immigration Council, an advocacy group for immigrants.

“It is making it nearly impossible,” she said.

Sessions’ decision has also “created a lot of anguish” for the Salvadoran woman at the center of the case, one of the woman’s lawyers said Tuesday in vowing to fight the ruling.

“This is obviously very distressing,” said Karen Musalo, who is helping to represent the Salvadoran woman, known as A.B. in court papers.

Musalo, who is co-counsel on the case, said A.B. has endured a “roller coaster of emotions” since she suffered the alleged abuse in El Salvador and fled to the U.S. four years ago. She was initially denied asylum by an immigration judge, but an immigration board of appeals reversed that and granted her asylum. That’s when Sessions stepped in to review the case. Read more

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Critics denounce Sessions’ move to restrict asylum for domestic and gang violence victims

Critics denounce Sessions’ move to restrict asylum for domestic and gang violence victims

Immigration advocates and former immigration judges denounced Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ ruling this week restricting asylum for people fleeing domestic or gang violence, saying the decision could cost lives and endanger tens of thousands of people.