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Court reaffirms domestic or gang violence as grounds for asylum

Asylum seekers approaching the border of California received some positive news when a federal judge ruled that new asylum policies from the U.S. Department of Justice violated existing law. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had imposed the new policies earlier in the year to eliminate domestic or gang violence as acceptable threats for people seeking asylum. The policies had also called for the expedited removal of immigrants requesting asylum.

The American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the new policies in court, where the judge determined that the Justice Department had acted capriciously to undermine immigration laws established by Congress. The judge labeled the policies as unlawful and discredited the notion that the Justice Department could alter the standards for expedited removal. The ruling included an immediate discontinuance of the unlawful policies. Immigration authorities must resume the consideration of domestic or gang violence as credible fears when making asylum decisions.

An attorney for the ACLU said that the decision represented a clear defeat for the Trump administration's that wants to prevent people from receiving asylum. The Justice Department has not provided a statement about the outcome of the lawsuit.

Although the immigration landscape remains unpredictable, the legal system's reaffirmation of existing federal laws could help a person enter the United States. The representation of an attorney could empower a person who must approach immigration authorities and seek asylum/refugee status. An attorney could inform a person about rights and provide advice about how to initiate a request for asylum and respond to questions. The advocacy of an attorney might prevent abuses that place barriers between a person and lawful entry into the country.

Source: NBC News, "Federal judge strikes down Trump asylum rules for domestic and gang violence victims", Dareh Gregorian, Dec. 12, 2018

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