WASHINGTON — End Rape on Campus (EROC) condemns the decision issued days ago by attorney general Jeff Sessions. With this decision, Sessions overturns legal precedent that has designated survivors of intimate partner violence as members of their own distinct social group, and therefore eligible for asylum. The decision would require proof of persecution motivated by a separate social characteristic that draws governmental persecution, such as religion, gender, or sexual identity. Obtaining this proof would be impossible for many, leaving them with no way to flee from life and death situations.
EROC’s Communications Director Catalina Velasquez, herself an immigrant to the U.S., issued the following statement:
“On May 22, the United Nations Refugee Agency reported substantial increase in number of people seeking refuge from violence in Central America. In spite of this and continuing violence around the world, Jeff Sessions has decided that threat of violence is not reason enough for someone to be granted asylum in the U.S. This decision is cruel and undermines extensive case law that says otherwise, negatively impacting thousands of people who seek refuge in another country like the U.S. because their lives are in danger.
“End Rape on Campus supports survivors of violence everywhere. Jeff Sessions claims that he is recovering ‘longstanding principles of immigration law’ and that ‘the asylum statute does not provide redress for all misfortune.’ In truth, Sessions is dismissing U.S. obligations to protect refugees and adding to the backward anti-immigrant policies this administration continues to take, demonizing and dehumanizing immigrants. He upholds that asylum status should be reserved for those fleeing governmental persecution. At EROC, we understand that when a person’s government fails to protect them from intimate partner violence and sexual violence, they must seek protection elsewhere. We will continue to resist draconian rollbacks on policies that fail to protect survivors.”