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12 June 2018, 04:18 | Glen Norman
America to toughen screening of illegal migrants seeking asylum, Attorney-General says
Donald Trump's administration has ordered U.S. immigration courts to stop granting asylum to victims of domestic abuse and gang violence who come to America seeking safety, according to reports.
The widely expected move overruled a Board of Immigration Appeals decision in 2016 that gave asylum status to a woman from El Salvador who fled her husband.
The move by Sessions is estimated to impact tens of thousands of people, though exact numbers for asylum seekers who fall under those particular social groups are not knowable because the categories are not tracked individually, said Gilman.
The decision came hours after Sessions' latest criticism on the asylum system, which he and other administration officials consider rife with abuse.
Sessions told immigration judges, whose courts are part of the Justice Department, that his decision "restores sound principles of asylum and long standing principles of immigration law".
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. However, as the United States´ chief law enforcement officer, the attorney general can intervene in its decisions to shape law.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday announced broad new restrictions on who can obtain asylum in the United States that effectively blocks most victims of gang or domestic violence from qualifying.
"This administration continues to swiftly deconstruct America's moral code and values by doing everything possible to limit access to asylum".
"Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum", Sessions wrote in his ruling.
Sessions became President Trump's attorney general after years as an immigration hardliner in the U.S. Senate.
A Charlotte, North Carolina-based immigration judge denied the woman asylum.
"Asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems, even all serious problems, that people face every day all over the world", Sessions said.
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Steve Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor, said a key point in Sessions' ruling was that applicants needed to demonstrate that "the government condoned the private actions or demonstrated an inability to protect the victim".
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