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Women’s Refugee Commission Responds to New Limitations Set for Asylum Seekers

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) responded to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to limit the criteria for asylum claims, specifically restricting the ability of those fleeing domestic violence. This unilaterally reverses a long-standing precedent establishing eligibility for protection in the U.S.

On April 6, 2018, Attorney General Sessions announced the adoption of a so-called “zero tolerance” policy at the United States-Mexico border regarding immigrants and even asylum seekers that cross into the country without authorization. Last month, the Trump administration began increasing the number of criminal prosecutions of people crossing the border without authorization.

During a speech in Virginia this week, Attorney General Sessions stated that most asylum claims are later found by immigration judges to be invalid, and stressed that the more the U.S. does to clarify the law and practice, the fewer illegal immigrants would make their way to the border.

Michelle Brané, the director of the Women's Refugee Commission's Migrant Rights and Justice program made the following statement today:

“Attorney General Sessions’ decision to limit the reasons why people can claim asylum is a devastating blow to families who come to our country seeking protection and safety. In this decision in the Matter of A-B-, Attorney General Sessions makes a broad assertion that ‘generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum.’ Such broad assumptions fail to take into consideration the realities of domestic and gang violence and conditions in Central America and elsewhere in which governments are unable or unwilling to protect certain groups of citizens. 

“This administration continues to swiftly deconstruct America’s moral code and values by doing everything possible to limit access to asylum. What this means in practical terms is that the United States is turning its back on our commitment to never again send people back to a country where their lives are at risk. Women and children will die as a result of these policies.”