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ICYMI: New York Times, “Closed for Business: Trump Administration Moves to Shrink Grounds for Asylum”

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In an article for the New York Times, Caitlin Dickerson describes the real consequences of the Trump administration’s recent decision to strong-arm judges and adjudicators tasked with deciding the fate of thousands of asylum seekers. The intended result: deny virtually all asylum claims by women fleeing horrific abuse, kids and others running from ruthless gangs, and most others claiming fear of persecution where the persecution is caused by perpetrators the government is unwilling or unable to control.

Although the courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) recognize that certain private harms – such as domestic and gang violence – may be grounds for asylum in certain cases, Attorney General Sessions, and now USCIS, have inappropriately pre-determined that most such applicants should not qualify for asylum.  

Congress has not recently changed asylum law; nor has Attorney General Sessions made any changes in the legal test used to determine whether certain private harms may rise to the level required for asylum. Instead, what the Trump administration has done is predetermine the facts in virtually all cases involving private harms, such as domestic and gang violence, instructing asylum adjudicators and immigration judges that they generally do not qualify for protection. In other words, the Trump administration, acting through Sessions, has all but ordered asylum adjudicators to deny claims by women and others fleeing unspeakable violence without applying well-settled asylum law to the facts of each case. This is improper because asylum cases are supposed to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis against criteria established in law as enacted by Congress.  

Dickerson describes how one family, separated by the Trump family separation policy, will now likely be permanently separated for the same harm that up until very recently was considered sufficient to obtain asylum.   

You can find the entire article here.

Ur Jaddou, Director of DHS Watch and former USCIS Chief Counsel, said: “The law requires a case-by-case review, against an established legal test, of each asylum claim that is based upon a private harm against a member of a social group not protected by the government. Instead, the Trump administration has attempted to require judges and USCIS adjudicators to predetermine that the vast majority of such cases are barred from asylum. Congress very clearly set out that ‘particular social groups’ may be granted asylum. While Congress did not clearly define or say much about such social groups, courts, the BIA and even Sessions, recognize that Congress provided for the possibility. Yet, Sessions and now USCIS have inappropriately concluded that most such cases could never qualify, claiming Congress never intended it despite the fact that Congress clearly included it as a ground for asylum in the law.”