Attorney General Jeff Sessions—a bad man who does bad things—announced on Monday that the Department of Justice would be making it significantly more difficult for immigrants fleeing domestic abuse in their home countries to claim asylum while entering the United States.
The decision, which has been expected, came shortly after Sessions delivered a speech where he accused many asylum seekers of trying to cheat or game the asylum process “to the detriment of the rule of law.”
In an order announcing the DOJ’s new policy, Sessions wrote (emphasis mine):
Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum. While I do not decide that violence inflicted by non-governmental actors may never serve as the basis for an asylum or withholding application based on membership in a particular social group, in practice such claims are unlikely to satisfy the statutory grounds for proving group persecution that the government is unable or unwilling to address. The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes—such as domestic violence or gang violence—or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim.
Or, put another way: Sure, domestic abuse and gang violence are bad. And, okay, maybe your native country isn’t doing a damn thing to protect you. But that’s life.
Sessions’ crackdown on asylum seekers comes amidst a full court press by the Trump administration to punish migrants—many of them families with young children fleeing violence—for attempting to enter the United States, regardless of the circumstances.