"Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum", Sessions said in a ruling that will be binding for immigration judges.
Monday's decision marks Sessions' latest effort to greatly restrict immigration.
That's defined as someone who is "unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country, and can not obtain protection in that country, due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future 'on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, '" by the United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol.
But in the ruling, Sessions said such cases would be less common going forward. Gilman expects the decision will ultimately be reversed, but until then, she believes it makes a clear statement that the USA does not want asylum seekers to come into the country, while putting vulnerable people in potentially deadly situations.More news: Budget retailer Poundworld with stores in Peterborough and Wisbech goes into administration
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Michelle Brané, director of the Women's Refugee Commission's Migrant Rights and Justice program, said in a statement: "Women and children will die as a result of these policies".
Domestic violence is a "particularly hard crime to prevent and prosecute, even in the United States", Sessions wrote, but its prevalence in El Salvador doesn't mean that its government was unwilling or unable to protect victims any less so than the United States.
'"Credible fear claims have sky-rocketed and the percentage of asylum claims found to be meritorious by our judges has declined significantly", stated the attorney general. "Turning our backs on victims of violence and deporting them to grave danger should not be the legacy sought by any administration".
Sessions faces criticism in Congress for a recent policy that separates children, including toddlers, from parents who illegally cross the U.S. -Mexico border. The cases can take years to resolve in backlogged immigration courts that Sessions oversees and applicants often are released on bond in the meantime. The woman, who fled her country four years ago after enduring more than a decade of domestic violence, has been living in the Carolinas and requested asylum. She appealed and, in 2016, the board ruled in her favor, saying it was clear that the Salvadoran government was unable to protect her even after she moved to another part of the country.