Seventy-five House Democrats submitted a resolution this week strongly condemning the decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to deny entry to victimes of domestic abuse and gang violence seeking asylum in the United States. The mid-July decision made amidst widespread national outrage over the Trump Administration's inhumane border and immigration policies, is now in effect and currently being challenged in court.
Citing pervasive global violence against women, as the World Health Organization determines 1 in 3 women experience domestic violence, the resolution warns of the grave consequences for the thousands of asylum seekers it may condemn to the dangerous threats which forced them to flee their home countries.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-I.), who introduced the resolution, described the DOJ's decision as the next cruel step in the Trump administration’s intentional scheme to dismantle the United States asylum system:
Domestic violence is a deadly global epidemic. According to the United Nations, of all women victims of homicide around the world, half were estimated to have been killed by intimate partners or family members. So what does Attorney General Sessions propose the United States of America do about it? Shut our doors, turn our backs, and send victims back to the life-threatening situations they are fleeing. Shame on him.
According to U.S. statutes and international law, people can claim asylum out of fear of being persecuted in their home countries based on their race, political opinion, nationality, religion, or belonging to a particular social group.
"Sessions concludes that domestic violence survivors do not face persecution due to their membership in a 'particular social group,' which is required to gain asylum in the United States," explained Natalie Rowthorn at The American Prospect this week. But Sessions, she continued, "ignores a simple fact: El Salvador is one of the deadliest places in the world to be a woman. It's also been called the 'murder capital of the world': A recent study found a woman is killed there every 16 hours." Doctors Without Borders called the new DOJ policy a death sentence for Central American women attempting to escape violence.
Schakowsky's resolution demands the policy change by Sessions be reversed and calls on the House of Representatives to remain "actively committed to reconstituting, preserving, and defending asylum laws that allows victims of domestic violence to seek life-saving refuge and protection in the United States."
Schakowsky added, "I am proud to see so many of my Democratic colleagues join me on this resolution condemning AG Sessions' inhumanity. I look forward to seeing many more join us as we move forward."