Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Migrant Rights

Immigrants seeking asylum walk toward Border Patrol agents after crossing into the U.S. from Mexico at La Joya, Texas on June 16, 2021. (Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Advocates Cheer DOJ Reversal of Trump Policy Denying Asylum to Victims of Violence

"Now it's time to build on this progress," said one migrant rights campaigner. "We're ready to work with the administration to create an asylum system that provides every person a fair opportunity to apply for protection."

Brett Wilkins

Immigrant rights advocates hailed the Wednesday reversal by U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland of a Trump-era rule denying asylum in the United States to victims of domestic or gang violence as a "critically important" step toward restoring the right of refuge to migrants fleeing countries where their lives are often in danger.

"This was the right move. We are thrilled for our client and for the many deserving individuals fleeing persecution who will have a fair chance to seek refuge in the United States."
—Karen Musalo, CGRS

In a pair of decisions, Garland vacated a 2018 guidance from then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that declared migrants would no longer automatically qualify for asylum if they presented concerns of domestic abuse or gang violence in their home countries.

Later that year, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. struck down much of the contentious Justice Department guidance, calling it "arbitrary, capricious," and unlawful.

According to the New York Times, Wednesday's decision involves the cases of two asylum-seeking Salvadoran women known as A-B- and L-E-A-. In 2016 and 2017, the Justice Department's Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that the women qualified for asylum since the government of El Salvador did not adequately protect people suffering domestic abuse.

A 2020 Human Rights Watch investigation found that at least 138 people deported from the United States to El Salvador since 2013 were killed, and that at least 70 others were kidnapped, sexually assaulted, or tortured. Many of the victims were murdered or harmed by the gangs they originally fled.

However, Sessions overruled the board's decision regarding A-B; his successor, William Barr, responded similarly to the board's finding in L-E-A-'s case.

"These decisions involve important questions about the meaning of our nation's asylum laws, which reflect America's commitment to providing refuge to some of the world's most vulnerable people," Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta wrote on Wednesday in a memo to the Justice Department's Civil Division.

Migrant advocates hailed news of the DOJ policy reversal.

"This was the right move. We are thrilled for our client and for the many deserving individuals fleeing persecution who will have a fair chance to seek refuge in the United States," Karen Musalo, director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) and co-counsel in Matter of A-B-, said in a statement.

"Now it's time to build on this progress," she added. "We're ready to work with the administration to create an asylum system that provides every person a fair opportunity to apply for protection, in line with our human rights obligations."

Bradley Jenkins, federal litigation attorney at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) and one of the lawyers representing L-E-A-, said that "families facing persecution qualify for asylum under any reasonable interpretation of the law, and it is encouraging to see Attorney General Garland take this step toward restoring the asylum system."

"We hope that the rule-making process will result in further progress toward a fair and humane asylum policy," he added.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Arbitrary, Racist, and Unfair': Judge Blocks Biden From Ending Title 42

"Only the coyotes profiteering off of people seeking protection have reason to celebrate this ill-reasoned ruling," said one migrant rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


'This Is a War' for Democratic Party's Future, Says Sanders of AIPAC's Super PAC

"They are doing everything they can to destroy the progressive movement in this country," said the senator.

Julia Conley ·


Ginni Thomas Pressed Arizona Lawmakers to Reverse Biden's 2020 Win: Report

"Clarence Thomas' continued service on the Supreme Court is a scandalous and appalling breach of judicial ethics," said one observer. "He is implementing the exact same theories that his wife used to try to steal the 2020 election for Trump."

Brett Wilkins ·


Millions More Kids Going Hungry Since GOP, Manchin Killed Expanded Child Tax Credit

"Even brief disruptions in access to food can have lasting consequences," wrote the authors of a new analysis of worsening hunger among U.S. families.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo