What Will Jeff Sessions’s New Asylum Rules Change for Asylum Seekers?

Attorney General, Jefferson B. Sessions, left immigration advocates reeling last week after issuing a ruling that had the power to significantly and drastically limit the ways that asylum-seekers could seek asylum based upon domestic violence and gang violence.

But, Vox obtained an internal memo that explains how Sessions’ new ruling will be implemented at the border.  While nothing can be called ‘good’ within this administration’s immigration policies, it is not as bad as we had feared yet.

John L. Lafferty, the head of the Asylum Division for US Citizenship and Immigration Services, was the writer of the memo.  The memo was labeled “Interim Guidance” for asylum officers.  Asylum officers are the ones who will be in charge of conducting asylum interviews and determining if asylum-seekers have “credible fear” and should be allowed to stay in the US and pursue an asylum claim.

A spokesperson for USCIS, Michael Bars, said, “Asylum and credible fear claims have skyrocketed across the board in recent years largely because individuals know they can exploit a broken system to enter the U.S., avoid removal, and remain in the country.  This exacerbates delays and undermines those with legitimate claims.  USCIS is carefully reviewing proposed changes to asylum and credible fear processing whereby every legal means is being considered to protect the integrity of our immigration system from fraudulent claims.”

But, according to Human Rights First’s Anwen Hughes, “While the Attorney General made some very sweeping assertions…including as to what he thinks would happen to the claims of different kinds of asylum seekers under this ruling, the legal holding of this case is considerably narrower…this guidance [in the memo] focuses on what the…decision actually held.”

The memo only specifically dictates the change that officers should no longer sight past precedent that allowed certain domestic violence victims to be considered part of a ‘particular social group’ and base their asylum claim on that persecution.

As far as the memo says, that is the only ruling that cannot be cited anymore.

For more information, click here.