Attorney General Denies Asylum To Victims Of Domestic Abuse, Gang Violence

Immigrant advocates, however, say Sessions is taking away an essential lifeline for victims of domestic abuse and gang violence and turning his back on an American legacy of protecting the most vulnerable.

Immigration lawyers have worked for decades to help domestic violence survivors from Central America, where the problem is pervasive. They argue these women deserve asylum because they’re persecuted by their husbands and ignored by their own governments.

The Salvadoran woman whose case Sessions took on spoke out for the first time to NPR last month. She asked to remain anonymous because she still fears her abusive ex-husband. She is known in court papers only as Ms. A.B.

She said she feared for her life after suffering more than a decade of abuse and that police in El Salvador refused to help her.

Ms. A.B. fled to the United States and applied for asylum. She fought her case to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which sided with her. But then Sessions intervened. He ruled against her and sent the case back to an immigration judge to order her deportation.

“We’ve spoken with Ms. A.B. herself, and she’s incredibly fearful as you can imagine,” Bookey said. “And there are lots of Ms. A.B.s out there that will be really at risk of deportation to their possible deaths.”

Ms. A.B.’s lawyers say they plan to challenge Sessions’ decision in federal court.

In the meantime, Sessions says that he hopes his message is reaching would-be asylum-seekers in Central America and that they think twice before traveling to the U.S. border.

“The world will know what our rules are, and great numbers will no longer undertake this dangerous journey,” Sessions said Monday.

In recent months, there has been a surge in the number of immigrants trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Immigrant rights advocates say that is because they’re fleeing extreme violence in their home countries — violence that shows no signs of abating.

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