The American Civil Liberties Union 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.
A group made up of mostly women and children is challenging Trump administration policies that “unlawfully deprive them of their right to seek humanitarian protection.” Specifically, the implementation of “expedited removal” policies has meant that most domestic and gang violence asylum claims get denied, a decision Sessions made when ruling on an individual asylum case, Matter of A-B, in June.
“The Trump administration’s effort to eliminate that protection betrays our values and flouts our laws,” the ACLU said in a statement. “The courts must step in to stop it.”
“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,” a DOJ spokesman told Politico in defense of its policy. “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 came after the administration rolled out its zero tolerance policy, detaining migrants at the border and separating thousands of children from their parents. Almost 600 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.