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AFSC Denounces DOJ Decision Undermining Asylum Protections for Survivors of Domestic and Gang Violence

AFSC Denounces DOJ Decision Undermining Asylum Protections for Survivors of Domestic and Gang Violence

Published: June 12, 2018
Photo: AFSC

WASHINGTON, DC (June 12, 2018) Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a decision vacating the Board of Immigration Appeal's (BIA) decision granting asylum to a Salvadoran domestic violence survivor. The decision says that survivors of domestic violence and other crimes perpetrated by non-government actors will not generally qualify for asylum in the U.S. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a Quaker organization that has worked for immigrant and refugee rights for almost 100 years – condemned the decision, which puts the lives of many immigrants at risk.

“It is appalling that the Department of Justice has decided to block those fleeing gang violence and domestic abuse from seeking asylum in the United States,” said Kathryn Johnson, Policy Advocacy Coordinator for AFSC. “This decision will affect thousands of courageous people who have escaped horrific situations and sought safety here. Now they will be turned away and sent back to potentially deadly situations. We are calling on the U.S. to respect human rights, international law, and a basic sense of shared humanity by offering protection to those who need it most.”

Across the country, people are speaking out against the decision. In Newark, where AFSC’s office provides legal services for asylum seekers, attorneys and community members have expressed grave concerns over the potential impacts of this decision. “Lawyers nationwide are preparing to defend the rights of immigrants in their individual asylum cases and, more broadly, by challenging the decision in our independent federal courts,” said Nicole Polley Miller, Legal Services Director for AFSC’s Immigrant Rights Program in Newark, NJ. “However, the Attorney General’s decision has made the already incredibly complicated and difficult path to asylum even more challenging, and could block dozens of our clients from desperately needed protection.”

The administration’s latest attack on immigrants, coupled with its decision to institute quotas on the number of cases that immigration judges must complete in a year, raises significant due process concerns and underscores the need for local and state governments to take action.

“This decision makes thousands more people vulnerable to detention and deportation,” said Chia-Chia Wang, AFSC’s Director of Organizing and Advocacy in New Jersey. “But there are many things local and state governments can do to reduce the harm that the administration is inflicting. Now more than ever, states must prioritize funding for a universal representation for those facing detention and deportation, disengage in any form of immigration enforcement to protect immigrant residents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol, and call on Congress to defund the mechanisms of mass deportation.”

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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.