On Monday, June 11th, 2018, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a deeply disappointing decision in an attempt to erode protections for domestic violence survivors and others seeking refuge in the United States.
Invoking a rarely utilized power, Sessions reversed the Board of Immigration Appeals’ grant of asylum to a Salvadoran domestic violence survivor in a case known as Matter of A-B. In ruling against the case of Ms A-B on Monday, Sessions overturned the 2014 Board of Immigration Appeals decision (Matter of A-R-C-G), which ruled that domestic violence survivors fleeing in search of refuge qualify for asylum in the United States.
Sojourner House, a domestic violence agency in Providence, Rhode Island that provides a statewide immigration assistance program, is deeply concerned about this ruling.
“Sessions’ decision takes us back to an era when the United States did not recognize women’s rights as human rights and sends a message that victims of domestic abuse are unworthy of protection,” said Vanessa Volz, Executive Director of Sojourner House. “This heartbreaking decision puts already vulnerable victims of domestic violence and their children further at risk.”
Despite Sessions’ decision, Sojourner House will continue representing survivors who meet the legal requirements for asylum and often have nowhere else to turn.
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“We are representing many victims of domestic violence who, like Ms. A-B, fled horrific gender-based persecution in their home countries, and are now being denied refugee protections,” said Gloria Greenfield, Sojourner House’s Director of Immigration Advocacy. “For many victims, asylum in the United States is literally lifesaving. Immigration judges denying these cases based on Sessions’ decision will mean a death sentence for them.”
Sojourner House is a comprehensive domestic violence and sexual assault agency. Sojourner House’s mission is to promote healthy relationships by providing culturally sensitive support, advocacy, and education for victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence; and to effect systems change. Sojourner House is a member of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and provides safe shelter, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, the Providence metro area’s only drop-in advocacy and resource center, Rhode Island’s only shelters for male victims of domestic violence and victims of human trafficking, support and advocacy for children who witness domestic violence, immigration advocacy, free HIV testing and support, and prevention education programs for students.
For more information, visit www.sojournerri.org.
[From a press release]