Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday defended the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind protections for victims of domestic or gang violence who seek asylum.
“We are really returning to the classical understanding of what asylum is,” Sessions told The Hill in an interview. “Asylum is not a claim that you have suffered a specific act of private violence or any other crime. It is really a systemic problem in which a group of people, based on ethnicity or race or nationality or other such factors, are oppressed in a given country.”
Sessions wrote in a ruling this week that “The asylum statute does not provide redress for all misfortune. It applies when persecution arises on account of membership in a protected group and the victim may not find protection except by taking refuge in another country.”
Attorney Raul Reyes, a contributor to NBC News and CNN, argued on Thursday that “Sessions’ decision sets a new bar for heartlessness by arguably the most anti-immigrant administration in modern history,” in an op-ed for the Hill.
“It is not supported by the reality of our immigration system; Sessions is overturning settled law and creating legal precedent based on his political views,” he added. “His ruling will likely expose thousands of women, children, and LGBTQ asylum-seekers to danger or death in their homelands.”
The attorney general also defended the administration’s practice of separating children from their parents if they are found illegally crossing the border, saying the children are treated “carefully and in a nice way,” and “are essentially kept with the Department of Health and Human Services in a most decent and fair and careful program in which they have education, good food, health care and schooling.”
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