Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared Monday that only immigrants who are victims of crimes perpetrated by the governments of their home countries will be considered eligible for asylum in the U.S.
The move would disqualify tens of thousands of people, reports the Los Angeles Times, particularly victims of domestic abuse and gang violence. Sessions previewed the order in a speech to immigration judges in Washington, claiming that "the asylum system is being abused" and alleging that the "vast majority" of immigrants who apply for asylum are coming to the U.S. with "illegitimate" claims.
U.S. asylum policies, which are mandated by international law, allow people to request entry based on a "credible fear" of persecution in their home countries, whether it be over their race, religion, or political views. Sessions claimed that only about 20 percent of asylum-seekers are actually facing "dangerous conditions," and pledged to decrease the number of immigrants entering the U.S.
His new mandate will be a binding precedent for immigration judges, the Times reports, as officials determine whether an immigrant is a victim of a "private" crime or a governmental one. "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," Sessions wrote in the ruling. Read more at the Los Angeles Times.