Anna Sheffer
June 11, 2018 3:15 pm
Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

For the past year and a half, the Trump administration has been openly anti-immigrant and anti-refugee, implementing cruel deportation policies and separating immigrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border. Now, the administration has taken things a step further: On June 11th, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his decision to end asylum for domestic violence victims.

After reviewing several asylum cases involving domestic violence, Sessions ruled that victims would no longer qualify for the protected immigration status.

At the heart of the issue is a decision known as the Matter of A-B-, which ruled in 2014 that a married Guatemalan woman who was being abused by her husband belonged to a “particular social group.” To be successfully granted asylum, refugees must prove that they face persecution based on part of their identity — including membership in a social group. Sessions decided that domestic violence victims could not be considered a “particular social group” and thus no longer qualify for asylum.

While the decision directly affects domestic violence victims from Central America, there are much broader implications as well. Sessions’ ruling also stated that victims of any crime must prove that their home country has “condoned the private actions or demonstrated an inability to protect the victims” if they want to receive asylum.

As Slate pointed out, Sessions is a noted critic of asylum protections. In 2017, for example, he claimed that the system experiences “rampant abuse and fraud” (which isn’t exactly true).

While it’s true that asylum seekers must be fleeing from dangerous situations, in many cases, abusive relationships can become deadly, and even “strong” women might have trouble escaping. Sessions’ decision is anti-refugee and anti-woman, and we can only hope that it will be reversed soon.

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