Back in June, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a ruling that made it almost impossible for survivors of domestic violence to seek asylum in the United States. But now, federal courts have weighed in, and this draconian asylum policy has mostly been repealed. According to The Hill, today, December 19th, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled against many of the policies that Sessions had put in place. The judge also ordered that any asylum-seekers who were deported under the asylum policy will be allowed to return to the U.S.
Sessions’ initial policy required asylum-seekers who claimed they were the victims of domestic violence or gang violence to prove that their home countries either permitted this abuse or were powerless to stop it. The former attorney general issued the decision after he reversed the decision to grant asylum to a woman who claimed to be fleeing domestic abuse. The New York Times notes that he wrote that most cases “pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by nongovernmental actors will not qualify for asylum.”
Judge Sullivan declared that this policy violated federal immigration law and chose to uphold the original ruling. In his decision, the judge called Sessions’ requirements “arbitrary and capricious,” noting that immigration cases must be determined on an individual basis.
In an ACLU press release, Jennifer Chang Newell, who manages the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project and helped argue the case, called the decision “a defeat for the Trump administration’s all-out assault on the rights of asylum seekers.”
Sullivan’s decision is a huge victory for survivors and refugees everywhere.