The Trump administration will stop granting asylum to victims of domestic abuse and gang violence, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.
As Attorney General Jeff Sessions notes in his binding directive, survivors of such “private” crimes are simply no longer eligible for asylum in the U.S. The move will block tens of thousands of people from immigrating into the U.S., according to the LA Times.
“Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum,” Sessions wrote in his directive. “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.”
In a speech earlier on Monday, before he released the directive, Sessions said that “asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems — even all serious problems — that people face every day all over the world.”
This is a complete switch from the 2014 Obama-era directive that did grant asylum to victims of domestic violence, with some stipulations. Under the Obama-era directive that Sessions overruled on Monday, domestic violence victims were granted asylum if the countries and societies they were migrating from didn’t recognize the need to protect them.
“Even within the domestic violence context, the issue of social distinction will depend on the facts and evidence in each individual case, including documented country conditions; law enforcement statistics and expert witnesses, if proffered; the respondent’s past experiences; and other reliable and credible sources of information,” the 2014 directive read.
In contrast, Sessions’ directive states that “the mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim.”
Cover image: Jeff Sessions, U.S. attorney general, speaks during a meeting with California leaders and public officials in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg)