Survivors want Biden to reverse Trump’s rules: NPR

President Biden pledged during the election campaign to restore asylum protections for domestic violence survivors from other countries, but more than 100 days into his presidency it has yet to happen product.

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President Biden pledged during the election campaign to restore asylum protections for domestic violence survivors from other countries, but more than 100 days into his presidency it has yet to happen product.

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As part of a large-scale effort to end domestic violence against women, Joe Biden has campaigned to restore asylum protections for survivors of domestic violence d ‘other countries.

But 100 days into his presidency, that has not happened, as President Biden’s administration grapples with a humanitarian crisis on the southern border that has eclipsed much of its immigration program.

In the meantime, immigrant advocates say survivors of abuse are still being deported to their home countries where they could face further abuse and authorities will not help them.

“Women, children and families are being sent back to the very dangers they fled,” says Blaine Bookey, an attorney at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

Bookey and other immigrant advocates urge the Biden administration to keep its campaign pledge and swiftly overturn a series of controversial court rulings issued by the Trump administration that found domestic and gang violence generally not a motive asylum.

Biden signed a executive order in February, asking his administration to rewrite the asylum rules. But that process will take months, if not years – and Bookey says many women and families need help now.

That’s why she and other advocates this week called on Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland to step in and immediately overturn Trump-era rulings on domestic and gang violence.

Rewriting asylum rules may not be easy

“This simple action that Attorney General Garland could take now could help protect women and families who look to the United States for protection,” Bookey says.

She says this includes people like her client Cristina, who fled Honduras seven years ago with her youngest daughter. Cristina is her middle name. We are not using his full name because his asylum application is still pending.

“If I lived in Honduras, then I wouldn’t exist anymore,” she says in Spanish through an interpreter. “They would have killed me already.”

Wherever she goes in Honduras, Cristina faces danger. She says the father of her children physically abused her for decades. Then she says her boyfriend abused her and threatened her daughter.

Honduran police told her she was not getting involved in family disputes. The police also did nothing, she said, when her brother and sister were killed by a politically powerful family who had a vendetta against theirs.

When the same family started threatening her, Cristina says she took her 9-year-old daughter and fled to the United States in 2014 and applied for asylum.

But when Cristina finally got a hearing in immigration court a few years later, her claim was turned down. On appeal, judges cited legal rulings by attorneys general under Trump.

Cristina and her daughter, now 15, are still living in the United States while they appeal their case. But Honduras is never far from his thoughts.

“I have a headache most of the time. There are times when I can’t sleep thinking if they’re going to send me back to Honduras, ”she said. “I don’t get much sleep. I wake up early. Sometimes I suffer from insomnia.”

Already high asylum refusal rates have increased further under the Trump administration. About seven in ten requests are rejected.

Trump has often called the asylum a “scam.” And his administration has taken numerous measures to limit asylum protections for migrants arriving at the southern border.

“The asylum system is being abused to the detriment of the rule of law,” then Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. during a speech in 2018, when he argued that there are social ills the United States simply cannot solve.

“Asylum was never designed to alleviate all the problems – even all the serious problems – that people face every day around the world,” Sessions said.

In the process, immigrant advocates say the sessions set back U.S. law to a time before women’s rights were human rights. Many policymakers in the United States have agreed that domestic violence should be grounds for asylum, at least under certain circumstances.

But simply rewriting the asylum rules may not be easy.

“It’s going to be difficult because the question is difficult,” says David Martin, a former senior lawyer in the Department of Homeland Security who also taught at the University of Virginia Law School.

Martin believes the recent wave of migrants at the border is complicating the situation because the Biden administration does not want to encourage more unauthorized migration.

The challenge, says Martin, is to protect vulnerable women who cannot find protection in their home country – without opening the door too much.

“There is general public support to protect people who face persecution, but it is not unlimited,” Martin said. “People get nervous when it seems like it’s an out of control system, or it seems like there are too many people going into it.”

Ms. AB had been allowed to stay in the United States for years while her case was pending. She has asked NPR to identify her only by her initials as she fears her ex-husband will find her.

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Ms. AB had been allowed to stay in the United States for years while her case was pending. She has asked NPR to identify her only by her initials as she fears her ex-husband will find her.

Kevin D. Liles for NPR

Many women suffer from persecution

It’s hard to say exactly where Attorney General Garland stands, as his career as a federal judge doesn’t offer many clues.

When Garland was questioned during his confirmation hearing on the Trump administration’s asylum rules, he said he had “no experience” with them.

But he became moved at this hearing when he spoke about how his own family immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe over a century ago.

“I come from a family where my grandparents fled anti-Semitism and persecution,” Garland said. “The country welcomed us and protected us.”

Immigrant advocates say many women also face persecution in countries where police fail to protect them from violent partners.

This includes the woman known in court documents as Mrs. AB Former Attorney General Sessions who used her case to set the legal precedent regarding domestic violence and asylum that is still relevant today. Ms. AB said she did not want to leave El Salvador, but like so many others, she had no choice.

“We are running away from the possibility of being murdered,” she said in Spanish through an interpreter. “I was able to escape, but many died, many people are no longer there to tell their story.”

Ms AB is also urging the Biden administration to act quickly. After Sessions intervened in her case, her asylum request was rejected. His appeal is pending.


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