Immigration lawyers claim that thousands of immigrants fleeing persecution and violence in their home nations face being turned away as the Trump administration moves to limit the kind of people who are eligible for asylum in the US. The law on qualifications for asylum is being reshaped by Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.
The move comes as the number of asylum applications has risen over the last few years. Sessions says there has been fraud and rampant abuse of the current system in such applications, which he is attempting to stop, while also reducing the enormous backlog in immigration cases. But, immigrant rights advocates are worried that legitimate asylum seekers could be denied sanctuary.
Those outraged by the move are unlikely to sway Sessions, who is convinced that false claims are gumming up the system. In October 2017, Sessions told the Executive Office for Immigration Review in a speech in Virginia that the current system is being gamed, while asking Congress to tighten asylum rules. Now, Sessions is tightening the rules on his own, vacating a previous ruling, which set a precedent of asylum seekers deserving to have a court hearing before their claims could be rejected and now reviewing whether victims of so-called ‘private crime’ such as domestic violence qualify for asylum.
Sessions says that loopholes can be closed and asylum laws clarified to make sure they assist those intended to assist instead of endlessly dealing with false claims.