Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions announced new restrictions of political asylum, telling immigration judges Monday that they generally cannot consider domestic and gang violence as grounds for asylum.
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The ruling could affect a large number of refugees from Central America who have turned to the United States to escape violence.
“Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-government actors will not qualify for asylum,” Sessions wrote in the decision. “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.”
Sessions, an opponent of immigration since his time as a U.S. Senator from Alabama, said in prepared remarks that America’s “asylum system is being abused to the detriment of the rule of law.”
“Saying a few simple words—claiming a fear of return—is now transforming a straightforward arrest for illegal entry and immediate return into a prolonged legal process,” he said, adding to a backlog of immigration cases.
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