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AILA Responds to Sessions Pushing Immigration Judges to Deny Asylum to Victims of Violence

Monday, June 11, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Attorney General issued a precedent decision in a case that he referred to himself. In the decision, he vacated the Board of Immigration Appeal’s (BIA) decision in Matter of A- B and announced that in his view, domestic violence victims and other victims of crimes perpetrated by private, non-government actors do not generally qualify for asylum. With this move, the Attorney General has stated he has unfettered authority to rewrite asylum law however he sees fit, further undermining the independence of the Immigration Court and the Board.

Annaluisa Padilla, AILA President, stated, “The Attorney General is turning back the clock on nearly twenty years of asylum law and undermining access to protections for bona fide asylum seekers who have suffered domestic violence, gang violence, or other forms of persecution by private actors. He blatantly ignores the conditions in countries that our own asylum law demands be taken into account when deciding these cases. This decision must also be examined in light of the Central American women and families who are now coming to our borders seeking protection from the uncontrolled, extreme levels violence in their home countries. These women are not safe in their own countries because the government cannot or will not protect them. Furthermore, today’s decision has made the arduous path to asylum even more difficult for those who are pursuing protection on their own without legal representation.”

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson added, “This decision by the nation’s top law enforcement officer further underscores that this administration does not respect the fundamental right to due process and the protections enshrined in our Constitution and asylum laws. The Attorney General is inappropriately pre-judging these cases and disregarding the principle that every single asylum case must be carefully considered on its own merits. Additionally, while he is pointedly going after domestic violence victims, his opinion could have more far-reaching implications for anyone who is the victim of violence committed by a private actor, such as violence targeting LGBTQ individuals, which are overwhelmingly committed by non-government actors. Matter of A- B- however is not the last word. This case will certainly be litigated and we will turn to the independent federal courts to step up and rectify this shameful chapter in our country’s history.”

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