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Attorney General Further Jeopardizes the Lives of Domestic Violence Victims

June 11, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ ruling today in Matter of A-B- is deeply disappointing, and will create even greater barriers for victims of domestic violence who are seeking asylum in the United States because their home countries were unable or unwilling to protect them.

After deciding to personally intervene in the case, Sessions overruled the precedent set in a 2014 decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in Matter of A-R-C-G, which has been cited in numerous asylum cases of women who survived domestic violence. The Attorney General has now put at risk the lives and futures of victims fleeing for their lives.

“This heartbreaking decision further jeopardizes already vulnerable victims of horrific domestic violence who have nowhere else to turn,” said NNEDV President and CEO, Kim Gandy. “I hope individual immigration judges will use their own discretion to take these factors into account, and provide humanitarian relief to these survivors and their children.”

“Asylum in the United States is, for many victims of domestic violence, literally lifesaving. Those affected by today’s decision have already faced extreme violence, and this decision will send them back to horrific abuse, or even death. In some countries, abusers are injuring and maiming their victims with impunity, and asylum seekers have nowhere else to turn,” continued Gandy.

While this ruling does not definitively prevent all domestic violence survivors from seeking asylum, the increased barriers may be insurmountable for the most vulnerable victims, many whom have no access to an attorney.

In April, NNEDV joined an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff, which was filed by Tahirih Justice Center, the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, Asista Immigration Assistance, and Casa de Esperanza, urging the Attorney General to uphold the BIA’s order in her case, and to uphold the 2014 precedent.