Seeking Asylum: If Sessions’ policy memo stands, the lawsuit argues, people “desperately seeking safety will be unlawfully deported to places where they fear they wThe new lawsuit, filed in Washington, widens the ongoing battleill be raped, kidnapped, beaten, and killed”
By Nomaan Merchant and Amy Taxin
The American Civil Liberties Union sued the U.S. government Tuesday over its efforts to prevent immigrants from seeking asylum due to domestic and gang violence in their home countries.
The ACLU’s lawsuit asks a judge to invalidate Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ June 11 decision to restrict the kinds of cases that qualify for asylum. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 12 parents and children who the ACLU says were wrongly found not to have a credible fear of return.
If Sessions’ memo stands, the lawsuit argues, people “desperately seeking safety will be unlawfully deported to places where they fear they will be raped, kidnapped, beaten, and killed.”
Asylum can be granted to someone who was persecuted in their home country or could be persecuted if forced to return. Thousands of people seek asylum each month at U.S. Customs and Border Protection stations along the southwest border. Most are from Central American countries torn apart by violence, gangs, and corruption.
Top officials in President Donald Trump’s administration say the asylum process is being exploited by immigrants who are counting on passing the initial credible fear screening and being released into the country.
The new lawsuit, filed in Washington, widens the ongoing battle between the ACLU and the U.S. government over immigration policy. A federal judge in San Diego ordered the reunification of thousands of families separated under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy for border crossers, after the ACLU sued there earlier this year.
Sessions’ June memo overruled a 2014 decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals in favor of a Guatemalan woman who fled her husband after what the board called “repugnant abuse.” The board found that the woman was a member of a particular social group eligible for asylum — in this case, married women in Guatemala who could not leave their relationship.
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