There's a new rule about to be enforced in the United States, and I need all of you guys to listen up 'cause it's pretty serious. (Please and thank you.) Domestic violence survivors won't get asylum in the U.S. anymore, thanks to the Trump administration's new rule, and it's a decision that could affect tens of thousands of people, especially women, who are fleeing from Central America in search of protection. Yeah, IK — it's another example of just how bad 2018 sucks.
According to The Hill, the decision — which also affects those seeking refuge from gang violence — was announced on Monday, June 11 by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has often sought to use his authority over immigration courts to restructure the rules on who's eligible for asylum. What makes it worse is that an increasing amount of women and children are applying for asylum amid surging levels of violent crime in Central America. However, Sessions seemingly doesn't believe that's enough, as he told immigration judges in Washington D.C. that the asylum system was being “abused to the detriment of the rule of law."
“Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum,” Sessions continued in his decision. He added,
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.
However, those who have cited a fear of violence on their applications for asylum aren't doing so without foundation. Aside from countries like El Salvador and Honduras ranking among the top five most violent countries in the world, courts have previously found that people who are seeking refuge from gang violence do, in fact, qualify for protection under U.S. asylum law, according to the human rights organization Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). In recent years, the rate of Central American fleeing violence in their home countries by attempting to come to the United States has risen dramatically, with the Pew Research Center noting a 25 percent increase in immigrants, documented or otherwise, from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras between 2007 and 2015.
Many Twitter users are seriously upset.
U.S. Representative Beto O'Rourke wrote that the decision "requires immediate action." He continued, "I'm going to the border to get answers and confront this head on. I know that we are better than this."
The latest ruling is only one of the Trump administration's many changes to immigration policy, though. Back in May, Sessions also announced that parents who were caught crossing into the U.S. from the Mexico border would be prosecuted and separated from their children as a part of its new "zero tolerance policy."
Sessions said, according to New York Magazine,
If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border. We are not going to let this country be invaded. We will not be stampeded. We will not capitulate to lawlessness.
Back in September 2017, the administration had also announced it would be rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era provision that protects around 700,000 young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children from being deported. The move has prompted massive amounts of criticism and protests, however the fate of the program has remained in limbo.
There's nothing else to say but: this sucks. But on the bright side, at least, I bet anti-immigration advocates are already planning their fight against the ruling. That's enough to keep me going, even if just for the moment.