GOP Is Talking Immigration and Sessions Limits US Asylum

House Representatives met today to discuss yet again Immigration. The major issues prohibiting Congressman from reaching a compromise are determining a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, known as Dreamers, making changes to legal visas and funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall. A group of GOP moderates are strongly pushing for a vote to be put forth on the floor. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is urging his party to come together determine a compromise amongst themselves, but this is proving to be difficult for members of the GOP. Republicans who represent diverse swing districts saying that they will accept nothing less than a pathway to citizenship for the immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. While on the other hand GOP hardliners don’t want to give this group an advantage over legal immigrants who already are in line to become citizens. Some of these hardliners are also relying on Trump’s 2016 campaign rhetoric -which was centered on border security and immigration enforcement -to oppose a compromise on this piece of legislation. Those in opposition claim that any compromise will be seen as a betrayal to Trump’s campaign promise. Some of the topics of compromise are; the use of reductions in legal immigration to create a visa option for Dreamers and other young immigrants, finding a solution for beneficiaries of the Temporary Protected Status that allowed people from countries like El Salvador and Haiti to live and work in the U.S legally because of civil turmoil or natural disasters in those countries, ending the administration’s policy of separating families of immigrants when parents are detained. The House is scheduled to cast votes tonight at 6:30 pm, none of which are related to immigration.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that victims of domestic abuse and gang violence generally will no longer qualify for asylum under federal law. This statement vacates a 2016 decision by the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals which gave eligibility for asylum to an abused woman from El Salvador. Sessions used his authority as AG to appeal to Federal Judges to uphold his decision over the Boards, claiming that it “restores sound principles of asylum and long-standing principles of immigration law,” and that it will help reduce the growing backlog of 700,000 court cases, more than triple the number in 2009. Prior to the new decision by Sessions, qualifications for an asylum required foreign nationals to establish that they have a fear of persecution in their homeland based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or “membership in a particular social group,” - a broad category which has in the past included victims of domestic violence and other abuse. Under the new decision by Sessions the ability for an individual to attain asylum due to  domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will become less frequent; “The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes — such as domestic violence or gang violence — or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim.” Critics came forwards claiming that this decision was the next step in Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric and also overturns decades of legal efforts to protect abused women.