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US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions rules out domestic violence for asylum claims

US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions rules out domestic violence for asylum claims

Sessions issued this decision under the precedent that domestic violence is a "private" matter and does not make anyone eligible for asylum in the U.S. He said it will help reduce the growing backlog of 700,000 court cases, more than triple the number in 2009.

That's defined as someone who is "unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country, and can not obtain protection in that country, due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future 'on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, '" by the United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol.

But in the ruling, Sessions said such cases would be less common going forward.

"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, can not itself establish an asylum claim", Sessions' opinion reads.

"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, can not itself establish an asylum claim".

They said Sessions' decision overturns decades of legal efforts to protect abused women.

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"While I do not decide that violence inflicted by non-governmental actors may never serve as the basis for an asylum or withholding application based on membership in a particular social group, in practice such claims are unlikely to satisfy the statutory grounds for proving group persecution that the government is unable or unwilling to address", Sessions added. Cracking down on illegal immigration and tightening legal immigration were major themes of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

Sessions said the woman obtained restraining orders against her husband and had him arrested at least once. The woman said her ex-husband had raped her, and his brother, a police officer, had also threatened her.

"This is not just about domestic violence, or El Salvador, or gangs", she said.

A Charlotte, North Carolina-based immigration judge denied the woman asylum.

Immigrants say they have credible fear about returning to their home countries, so border agents have no choice but to place them in asylum proceedings.

Mr Sessions sent the case back to an immigration judge, whose ruling can be appealed to the Justice Department's Board of Immigration Appeals and then to a federal appeals court, Ms Musalo said.