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AG Sessions decided victims of domestic abuse not welcome in U.S. for asylum

Staff Writer |
Attorney General Jeff Sessions unveiled strict new limitations on asylum seekers, asserting that victims of domestic abuse and even gang violence would no longer qualify for such relief.

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The decision represents a dramatic shift from past cases involving Central American women who sought safe haven from their troubled domestic relationships in which they were subjected to repeated physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

"Our nation's immigration laws provide for asylum to be granted to individuals who have been persecuted, or have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of their membership in a particular social group," the Justice Department said in a written statement, accompanying Sessions' opinion.

"But victims of personal crimes do not fit this definition — no matter how vile and reprehensible the crime perpetrated against them."

Citing a 2014 case involving a woman from El Salvador, Sessions did not question that serious abuse had occurred at the hands of her ex-husband with whom she shared three children.

"I understand that many victims of domestic violence may seek to flee from their home countries to extricate themselves from a dire situation or to give themselves the opportunity for a better life," the attorney general concluded. "But the asylum statute is not a general hardship statute."

Instead, Sessions said that applicants must now show that flight is "necessary because her home government is unwilling or unable to protect her."

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