On Monday, June 11th, 2018, Attorney General
Jeff Sessions issued a deeply disappointing decision in an attempt to
erode protections for domestic violence survivors and others seeking refuge in
the United States.
Invoking a rarely utilized power, Sessions
reversed the Board of Immigration Appeals’ grant of asylum to a Salvadoran
domestic violence survivor in a case known as Matter of A-B. In
ruling against the case of Ms. A-B on Monday, Sessions overturned the 2014
Board of Immigration Appeals decision (Matter of A-R-C-G), which ruled that domestic violence survivors fleeing in search
of refuge qualify for asylum in the United States.
Sojourner House, a domestic violence agency in
Providence, Rhode Island that provides a statewide immigration assistance
program, is deeply concerned about this ruling.
“Sessions’ decision takes us back to an era
when the United States did not recognize women’s rights as human rights and
sends a message that victims of domestic abuse are unworthy of protection,”
said Vanessa Volz, Executive Director of Sojourner House. “This heartbreaking
decision puts already vulnerable victims of domestic violence and their
children further at risk.”
Despite Sessions’ decision, Sojourner House
will continue representing survivors who meet the legal requirements for asylum
and often have nowhere else to turn.
“We are representing many victims of domestic
violence who, like Ms. A-B, fled horrific gender-based persecution in their home
countries, and are now being denied refugee protections,” said Gloria
Greenfield, Sojourner House’s Director of Immigration Advocacy. “For many
victims, asylum in the United States is literally lifesaving. Immigration
judges denying these cases based on Sessions’ decision will mean a death
sentence for them.”