Asylum ruling shows Sessions’s true colors; and they’re very dark

On Monday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed a ruling that allowed women suffering physical abuse to seek asylum in the United States.

We will not be their safe haven, he said.

The attorney general took it upon himself to make the decision, reversing a federal law enacted by the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals in 2014. Sessions justified his decision by saying personal abuse situations do not classify themselves as that of political oppression, his litmus test.

Background to the original decision included the tribal custom of the cutting of female genitalia in African countries, which U.S. authorities allowed as gender-based persecution.

In Mr. Sessions’s opinion, abuse against mothers and daughters is a family affair and should be kept behind closed doors.

Which is exactly why domestic abuse has been kept off the public radar for so long in the first place.

WHAT TIPPED the scale in the landmark 2014 ruling was the case of Aminta Cifuentes, a Guatemalan woman who for years suffered at the hand of her husband including being bludgeoned, burned, repeatedly raped, and threatened with death.

Despite her pleas for protection, Guatemalan authorities said they would not interfere in a “domestic matter.”

After a particularly brutal attack in 2005, Cifuentes fled to the United States in fear for her life and filed for asylum. After waiting for nearly a decade, the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that domestic violence qualified as persecution when a victim’s home country is unwilling to protect them.

MR. SESSIONS defended his decision to repeal such protections as a “cost-saving measure” and as a way to speed along a backlog of court cases.

One can’t imagine a situation so desperate to cause a person to want to leave everything — family, home, country — behind. To categorically deny the validity of these women’s pleas marks, as one critic put it, a return to the Dark Ages.

— Susan Lynn

The Iola Register

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