US Blocks Victims Fleeing Domestic Violence

June 12th, 2018

Sessions rolls back protections for asylum seekers

NEW YORK, NY – Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a decision in Matter of A-B, which misapplies the settled legal standard for determining when harm by non-governmental actors rises to the level of persecution. It reverses decades of findings and interpretation of domestic and international law and will leave thousands of the world’s most vulnerable population without protection. The decision will specifically harm women and children fleeing domestic violence. By choosing to usurp the role of the Department to further the White House’s racist agenda, Sessions has shown a complete disregard, and even downright disdain, for the traditional independence of the Justice Department.

In response, Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, issued the following statement:

“Attorney General Sessions is re-victimizing people fleeing sexual and domestic violence by further calling their claims into question. As the top law enforcement official in the United States he should be more concerned with ending violence against women rather than criminalizing the victims. We will work with our Immigrant Advocates Response Collaborative (I-ARC) partners to fight back against this most recent attack on the integrity of our legal system and international obligations.”

“We are deeply troubled and disappointed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to create significant barriers for individuals and families seeking asylum in the United States after fleeing domestic violence in their home countries. Every year at our Immigration Law Project, we assist survivors, who have experienced unimaginable levels of violence with no protection from the governments of their home countries, to seek protection under our country’s immigration laws. Today’s decision reverses years of case law and tragically places these survivors at risk once again. We want immigrant victims of violence to know that we stand with you today and always. At Safe Horizon, we will continue to defend the humanity and safety of immigrant survivors,” said Liz Roberts, Deputy CEO of Safe Horizon.

“This decision is not a big surprise, given the Attorney General's hostility to immigrants generally. This is the same Administration that thinks it okay to separate parents from their small children at the border,” said Anne Pilsbury, Director of Central American Legal Assistance.

Read the full decision here.


In April, Sessions decided to personally review immigration cases that have to do with abused women and children seeking asylum. Earlier that month, Sessions commented immigration courts are “overloaded with fake [asylum] claims,” and in March, Sessions took the matters into his own hands by obfuscating the circumstances and changing the criteria that women need to qualify for to apply for asylum.

On April 4th, the Department of Homeland Security put out a biased report claiming that “legal loopholes, asylum fraud, a massive court backlog, and drastically insufficient immigration enforcement resources encourage illegal immigration and threaten the security of our nation.” This report cites that 40 percent of those seeking asylum are “families and children.” Most of the parents apprehended with their own children are mothers.