“The asylum statute does not provide redress for all misfortune,” Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III wrote as he moved to further restrict U.S. acceptance of immigrants by ruling Monday that fear of domestic abuse or gang violence is not an acceptable basis for granting asylum. Ripping discretion, once again, from local authorities.
Sessions wrote a formal legal opinion, exercising his authority to overturn decisions by federal immigration judges, but not on a case-by-case basis as would normally be done, and finding that very real cases of repeated rape, sexual slavery and viable threats of murder – often against young people who have just watched their parents murdered before them – are not grounds for asylum, ever.
“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.”
He acted in the case of a woman from El Salvador who entered the U.S. illegally in 2014 and sought asylum, claiming that her husband repeatedly abused her “emotionally, physically and sexually.”
Under U.S. and international law, a person may seek asylum based on past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Four years ago, an immigration court recognized “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship” as such a social group.
In overturning that ruling, Sessions said it did not conform with the requirements of federal law that a social group must have well-defined characteristics that are socially distinct. The claims of the woman in this case, who said her social group was “El Salvadoran women unable to leave their domestic relationships where they have children,” did not fit the law’s requirements, he said.
“I do not minimize the vile abuse that the respondent reported she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband or the harrowing experiences of many other victims of domestic violence around the world,” Sessions said. “I understand that many victims of domestic violence may seek to flee from their home countries to extricate themselves from a dire situation or to give themselves the opportunity for a better life. But the asylum statute is not a general-hardship statute.”
Advocates for immigrants immediately condemned the ruling.
“We’re not talking about chronic illegal immigration, and this isn’t a defense against a hoard of unwashed heathens swarming our boarders,” opined Michael Spillan, a Sentinel Justice Contributor. “Asylum for women and children who have been and will be subjected to a life of actual physical and sexual slavery is a humanitarian act.”
“I find it dichotomous that we have in President Donald Trump a chief executive so in touch with the will of his base and yet an Attorney General as out of touch with reality itself as Jeff Sessions”
Beth Werlin of the American Immigration Council said it would “result in sending countless mothers and children back to their abusers and criminal gangs. Turning our backs on victims of violence and deporting them to grave danger should not be the legacy sought by any administration.”
Earlier Monday, in a speech to Justice Department immigration lawyers in Tysons Corner, Virginia, Sessions said the asylum system is being abused and “was never meant to alleviate all problems, even serious problems, that people face every day all over the world.”
He said that the number of asylum claims jumped to 94,000 in 2016, compared with 5,000 in 2009, and that only about one-fifth of claims in the past five years have been found to be justified.
The Sentinel has stood strongly against illegal immigration, and will ever continue to do so. That being said, we are likewise opposed to “one-size-fits-all” cooker cutter type “zero tolerance” policies such as AG Sessions continually attempts to effect.
The Attorney General’s “Kill’em all, let God sort’em out” discretion stripping approach to government, justice, immigration and probably life itself is disturbing.
The People of the United States, through our elected representatives, have spent two and a half centuries building a corps of intelligent, educated and we’ll trained professionals who have been tasked with the job of making determinations, on a case-by-case basis, about who and how life changing decisions impacting the lives of people within our nation should be made.
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has, since his first week in office, moved to strip Congressionally mandated discretionary authority away from those federal professionals, the ones living and working in our local communities, in order to vest it apparently in himself.
He has moved consistently, acting by fiat, to rip case-by-case discretion away from our neighbors, the local United States Attorneys, the local immigration judges, and other people we have direct access to, other people who we trust to understand the needs of our communities – ones they share with us – better than career bureaucrats in Washington.
The Sentinel is a conservative new source, and stands opposed, firmly opposed, to any act by AG Sessions, to dismantle the authority given to our friends and neighbors to determine what’s right and needed in our local communities and replace that authority with his own brand of un-American extremism.
And unlike Mr. Sessions, we do not believe that legitimate fear of rape and murder constitute “misfortune”.