Asylum Seekers Face New Challenges in US

Once again U.S. immigration is in the news regarding domestic violence and gang-violence related to asylum seekers. The turmoil came from the speech made by attorney General, Jeff Sessions’ opening remarks to the House Judiciary Committee’s Oversight of the Department of Justice regarding asylum. Mr. Sessions has not created a new rule of law or stepped beyond the current regulations. Instead, he stated that the law should be applied according to his Session’s and the Trump Administration’s interpretation of the Legislators’ intention. The Trump/Sessions interpretation includes separating children from parents suspected of illegally crossing the border.

The fact is, there have been allegations of abuse of the asylum application process related to domestic violence, gang-violence and other type is issues. Sessions is now requesting that Judges be more restrictive regarding these matters. However, that does not mean that qualified applicants cannot file for asylum, even on these grounds.

For example, someone that has been a victim of domestic violence in X country, is not necessarily a victim for asylum in U.S. because, under the Trump/Sessions interpretation, the crime of domestic violence should be resolved within the legal system of that country, and/or maybe that victim can move to other areas within the country in order to find safety. For this person, the asylum application would not be approved. Nevertheless, if a victim of domestic violence is married to a military or governmental official, and the victim neither can be protected by the country’s legal system nor will (s)he be protected by moving to a different area within the country, then this person could have an asylum application approved. In the case of gang-violence, if the victim is in, or married to someone in a gang, and same as above, cannot find recourse within the country’s own legal system or protection anywhere in his or her home country, it is plausible to file for an asylum application.

It is also important to understand that there are other ways to protect foreign nationals that are victims of domestic violence or gang violence, other than through asylum, especially if they are already in the United States.

Feel free to contact our office with any questions.

Solita Chocron, LL.M.

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