18 states, D.C. support challenge to new asylum policy

Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Official portrait.

Sept. 30 (UPI) — Eighteen states and the District of Columbia are supporting a legal challenge to a new U.S. policy that denies asylum to victims fleeing gang or domestic violence.

Representatives from the 18 states and the district filed a friend-of-the-court brief Friday in Washington to support an asylum-seeker challenging the policy, NBC News reported.

The full name of the plaintiff in the Grace v. Sessions suit that the American Civil Liberties Union filed in August against the federal policy has not been revealed. She said her partner “and his violent gang member sons,” abused her but U.S. officials denied her request for asylum July 20. She was detained in Texas.

The states’ attorneys supporting Grace described El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, which produce a large number of applicants for U.S. asylum, as nations facing pervasive problems with gangs and domestic violence.

The new U.S. asylum policy reversed a 2014 decision by the Board of Immigrant Appeals that allowed undocumented immigrants fleeing domestic violence to apply for asylum.

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement Friday that the new policy “ignores decades of state, federal, and international law.”

“Federal law requires that all asylum claims be adjudicated on the particular facts and circumstances of the claim, and such a bar violates that principle,” the friend-of-the court brief said.

Attorneys further argued in the brief that the policy denying immigrants entry hurts the U.S. economy, saying they are more likely to become entrepreneurs and “supply necessary labor.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered immigration judges to no longer grant asylum to victims fleeing domestic abuse and gang violence in June.

“Asylum is available for those who leave their home country because of persecution or fear on account of race, religion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group or political opinion,” Sessions said in his June 11 announcement of the policy. “Asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems — even all serious problems — that people face every day all over the world.”


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