The New Yorker:
On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ruled that a Salvadoran woman who came to the U.S. in 2014 to escape an abusive husband did not qualify for asylum under United States law. An immigration court had previously granted her asylum, allowing her to remain in the country legally, but Sessions reconsidered the finding, as part of a broader rethinking of whether or not victims of domestic abuse can qualify for protection under U.S. asylum law. The decision means that the U.S. can now begin to turn away tens of thousands of women who arrive in this country every year, seeking safety from violence and abuse at home. “He could be repealing sixty to seventy per cent of asylum jurisprudence,” Deborah Anker, an immigration expert at Harvard Law School, told me, speaking about Sessions, before the decision was announced. “Its ramifications are extraordinary.”
Publicly, the Trump Administration still pays lip service to the country’s asylum laws, which dictate the rights that people fleeing violence or persecution in their home countries have upon entering the U.S. “If you come to the country, you should come through, first, the port of entry and make a claim of asylum if you think you have a legitimate asylum claim,” Sessions said recently, while defending a new “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting everyone who crosses the U.S. border anywhere other than at official ports of entry, including asylum seekers. Sessions described the new policy, which has led to hundreds of children being separated from their parents at the border, as necessary to preserve the rule of law—a common argument from the Trump Administration, which has described the implementation of harsh anti-immigrant measures as merely following the laws already on the books. At the same time, Sessions has made a series of decisions to undermine, narrow, and redraw the asylum laws and policies that are also on the books.
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