ACLU Sues Jeff Sessions for Removing Asylum Protections

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday, alleging the “evisceration of asylum protections” in refusing to consider domestic and gang violence as worthy criteria for granting asylum.

“BREAKING: We’re suing Jeff Sessions for illegally denying asylum protections to immigrants fleeing domestic violence and gang brutality.
These policies undermine the fundamental human rights of women and violate decades of settled asylum law.”

The plaintiff group — mostly women and children — is challenging Trump administration policies that they believe “unlawfully deprive them of their right to seek humanitarian protection.” Specifically, the administration’s new “expedited removal” policies means that most domestic and gang violence asylum claims now are automatically denied. This is a policy Sessions made when he ruled on an individual asylum case, Matter of A-B, in June.

“This is a naked attempt by the Trump administration to eviscerate our country’s asylum protections,”  the ACLU said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “It’s clear the administration’s goal is to deny and deport as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. The Trump administration’s effort to eliminate that protection betrays our values and flouts our laws. The courts must step in to stop it.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice (DOJ) defended its policy by issuing the following statement:

“Our nation’s immigration laws provide for asylum to be granted to individuals who have been persecuted, or who have a well-founded fear of persecution, on account of their membership in a ‘particular social group,’ but most victims of personal crimes do not fit this definition — no matter how vile and reprehensible the crime perpetrated against them.”

“The Department of Justice remains committed to reducing violence against women and enforcing laws against domestic violence, both in the United States and around the world.”

Sessions’ asylum decision was made after the Trump administration began its zero tolerance immigration policy and started arrest all undocumented adult migrants at the border. That is also when they began separating thousands of children from their parents who had been arrested.

Hundreds of migrant children have yet to be reunited with their parents even weeks after the deadline has elapsed.

The ACLU has also sued the Trump administration in an attempt to halt the family separations.