Washington, DC — Statement by KIND President Wendy Young:
The Attorney General’s decision is a clear effort to block victims of sexual and gender-based violence, including domestic and gang violence and human trafficking, from accessing asylum in United States. It will condemn thousands of women and children, including LGBTI individuals, to return to grave harm and death.
The decision shows callous disregard for the horrific and unchecked domestic violence, sexual violence, femicide, and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence in El Salvador, Ms. A-B-‘s home country, as well as in the region, which includes Honduras and Guatemala.
Protection for those at risk of female genital cutting and honor killing is also gravely undermined.
The decision casts aside years of settled case law on what constitutes a “particular social group” – the category that forms the basis of many children’s asylum claims, and when persecution by non-governmental actors rises to the level for an asylum claim.
The decision fails completely to understand domestic violence characterizing it as a “private” act that does not deserve asylum protection, when in fact domestic violence is rampant El Salvador precisely because it is widely accepted by society, police, and the justice system.
The decision increases the burden of proof in asylum claims involving persecution by private actors. The standard of evidence is greatly increased, which means that it will be nearly impossible to win an asylum claim without a lawyer because the information needed to support the claim will be far greater and much more difficult to obtain. At the same time, the Attorney General has imposed requirements on immigration judges to complete 700 immigration cases per year. This is a lethal combination for women and children asylum seekers in particular because they have to prove much more but have much less time in which to do it.
The Attorney General’s decision is yet another way in which the Trump Administration is decimating protections for the most vulnerable immigrant women and children and showing its complete lack of humanity and lack of respect for American values.
Media Contact: Megan McKenna, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-631-9990