Do­mes­tic, gang vi­o­lence not grounds for US asy­lum

The Phnom Penh Post - - MARKETSWORLD - Paul Han­d­ley

US AT­TOR­NEY Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions de­clared on Mon­day that vic­tims of do­mes­tic and gang vi­o­lence will no longer qual­ify for asy­lum, in an ef­fort to stem a flow of il­le­gal im­mi­grant fam­i­lies from Cen­tral Amer­ica.

In a de­cid­ing opin­ion on a case of an uniden­ti­fied woman from El Sal­vador who was raped and beaten by her hus­band for years, Ses­sions said that asy­lum seek­ers must prove that they suf­fer per­se­cu­tion aris­ing from their mem­ber­ship in a dis­tinct group.

“An alien may suf­fer threats and vi­o­lence in a for­eign coun­try for any num­ber of rea­sons re­lat­ing to her so­cial, eco­nomic, fam­ily, or other per­sonal cir­cum­stances. Yet the asy­lum statute does not pro­vide re­dress for all mis­for­tune,” Ses­sions said.

Such a group can­not be overly broad or dif­fuse, Ses­sions said, over­rul­ing a pre­vi­ous asy­lum de­ci­sion that ac­cepted mar­ried women who are vic­tims of vi­o­lent re­la­tion­ships as a per­se­cuted group.

“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.”

The rul­ing came as part of a push­back to the ar­rival of thou­sands of mi­grants from Hon­duras, Gu­atemala and El Sal­vador over the past year flee­ing wide­spread vi­o­lence in their coun­try.

Most of them cross the US-Mex­ico bor­der and im­me­di­ately turn them- selves in to re­quest asy­lum.

In early May, Ses­sions an­nounced that any il­le­gal bor­der-crossers, in­clud­ing asy­lum seek­ers, would first be charged with a crime, and par­ents and chil­dren would be sep­a­rated.

The pol­icy, meant to be a de­ter­rent, has sparked strong crit­i­cism and an ac­cu­sa­tion from the UN Hu­man Rights Of­fice that chil­dren’s rights are be­ing vi­o­lated by the pol­icy.

In a speech ear­lier on Mon­day, Ses­sions made clear theTrump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ongoing frus­tra­tion with the bor­der sit­u­a­tion.

“The asy­lum sys­tem is be­ing abused to the detri­ment of the rule of law, sound pub­lic pol­icy, and pub­lic safety – and to the detri­ment of peo­ple with just claims,” he said.

“The vast ma­jor­ity of the cur­rent asy- lum claims are not valid,” he added, say­ing only 20 per­cent have met asy­lum stan­dards. Asy­lum was never meant to al­le­vi­ate all prob­lems – even all se­ri­ous prob­lems – that peo­ple face ev­ery day all over the world.”

Ses­sions’s state­ment set the stan­dard for im­mi­gra­tion judges fac­ing a mas­sive surge in cases of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants.

More than 7,800 asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions were filed in March alone. And im­mi­gra­tion courts over­all face a back­log of about 700,000 cases of all types.

Steve Vladeck, a Univer­sity of Texas law pro­fes­sor, said a key point in Ses­sions’s rul­ing was that ap­pli­cants needed to demon­strate that “the govern­ment con­doned the pri­vate ac­tions or demon­strated an in­abil­ity to pro­tect the vic­tim”.

SAM YEH/AFP

Jour­nal­ists tour new of­fice com­plex of the Amer­i­can In­sti­tute in Tai­wan dur­ing a ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony in Taipei on Tues­day.

SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP

Pro-mi­grant car­a­van demon­stra­tors stage a rally in on April 29 at the USMex­ico bor­der in San Ysidro, California.

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