Washington D.C., Jun 12, 2018 / 23:04 pm America/Denver (CNA).
A ruling by the U.S. attorney general that victims of domestic abuse and gang violence may no longer qualify for asylum could “close the door” on the most vulnerable, warned a refugee official with the U.S. bishops’ conference.
On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a 31-page ruling which overturned a 2016 decision granting asylum to a woman who had been “emotionally, physically and sexually” abused by her husband in El Salvador. For the sake of anonymity, the woman is known as Ms. A-B in court papers.
Sessions said that domestic abuse and gang violence claims alone should not be considered grounds for an asylum claim, unless there is also evidence of persecution by government actors based on one’s social group.
The decision “strips life-saving protection from Ms. A-B herself, and also potentially many other women who lack adequate protection and will now face return to the extreme dangers of domestic violence in their home country,” said Ashley Feasley, the director of policy at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migrant and Refugee Services.
“Similarly, this decision could close the door on those fleeing gang violence in their home country from escaping persecution,” Feasley told CNA, adding “this action also overrides extensive prior legal precedent.”