Sessions and Nielsen Can Send Thousands of Asylum Seekers Back to Their Deaths by Decree

Human Rights

Mayra, a 29-year-old Guatemalan woman, moved 15 times in one year to escape her abusive husband, “but he always found her.” When he tried to run her over with his car and she went to the police for help, they waved her off and told her she should just leave the country. “So she did.” But the Trump administration is now moving to outright block asylum seekers like Mayra from making their claims at the U.S./Mexico border, and sending them back to their deaths.

”Under new guidance given Wednesday to the officers who interview asylum seekers at the US borders and evaluate refugee applications,” CNN reports, “claims based on fear of gang and domestic violence will be immediately rejected.”

Asylum seekers, like those fleeing horrific domestic and gang violence, should have their chance to go before an immigration judge and make their case, but now this guidance is “instructing the officers who conduct the initial interviews at the border to reject asylum claims based on those fears. Beyond that, the officers are told to evaluate whether an illegal border crossing should also be grounds for rejection.”

This is covered in the fingerprints of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who last month used his vast power and authority as attorney general to decide that the U.S. should reject asylum claims related to this kind of violence, “in defiance of existing law, policy and precedent,” immigrant rights group America’s Voice (AV) said. “The new guidance,” CNN continued, “fully implements those suggestions.”

Those suggestions will leave blood on the hands of Sessions, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen, and anyone carrying out these orders, because “subversion of asylum laws and reversal of settled standards for protection will, quite literally, send refugees to their deaths,” AV founder Frank Sharry said. Border agents have already been turning away people asking for asylum at a U.S. port of entry, which is a legal act under U.S. law. 

According to Edgar Saldivar, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas, “complaints about asylum-seekers not being allowed to ask for refuge are received ‘multiple times and on a daily basis.’” The new guidance, CNN continued, “is likely to draw swift condemnation from immigration advocates and legal challenges. Advocates say international law is clear that asylum claims are valid even when a migrant enters a country illegally.” 

“Jeff Sessions and Kirstjen Nielsen are taking a wrecking ball to the very idea of America as a shining city on the hill that provides refuge to those coming to America seeking freedom and safety,” Sharry continued. “For caring people in America, every person who comes to our nation seeking safety from violence deserves a fair case-by-case process. Sessions and Nielsen are trashing our foundational values, our best traditions, and our settled practices without so much as a hearing in Congress.”

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ }}