RMIAN Denounces Attorney General's Decision to Limit Protection for Victims of Domestic Violence

Contacts: Mekela Goehring, mgoehring@rmian.org, 720-370-9102
Ashley Harrington, aharrington@rmian.org, 720-370-9104
Laura Lunn, llunn@rmian.org, 720-370-9100

On June 11, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a far-reaching and abhorrent decision that will have a devastating impact on asylum-seekers, in particular for domestic violence survivors. Invoking a rarely-used procedural mechanism, Sessions unilaterally overturned a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) decision granting asylum to a victim of ongoing, brutal domestic violence and overruled Matter of A-R-C-G, a 2014 precedential BIA decision, which solidified that victims of domestic violence could be eligible for asylum protection in the United States. RMIAN joins its partner organizations across the country such as the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies and the National Immigrant Justice Center, as well as many former immigration judges and BIA members, in condemning this decision as an “affront to the rule of law” and yet another politically-motivated attack on those seeking refuge in the U.S.

“This decision is the latest blatant attempt by this administration to inflict harm on the most vulnerable refugees fleeing to the U.S. to save their lives and the lives of their children. Just like the administration’s recent appalling policies of ripping children away from their parents when they reach our border, this decision sends a clear message that the United States will no longer be a safe haven for these desperate families,” said RMIAN’s Children’s Program Managing Attorney Ashley Harrington.

This decision will have grave consequences for many of the clients in RMIAN’s Children’s Program, as well as many of the parents currently separated from their children and detained at the immigration detention center in Aurora, Colorado.  

“How do I explain to my detained client that yesterday, she had a well-recognized bona fide asylum claim and today, she is facing the very real risk of deportation and indefinite separation from her daughter? This decision is antithetical to how a healthy judicial system should operate. Human lives depend on a consistent application of the law that is not politicized in such a way where one man has the authority to change decades of hard-fought legal precedent. This decision is tantamount to a death sentence for innumerable survivors of domestic violence who will be sent back to their home countries and punished for fleeing their abusers,” said RMIAN’s Detention Program Managing Attorney Laura Lunn.

RMIAN is committed to resolutely fighting for the rights of all families and children to pursue asylum and protection under the law.  If you are a RMIAN attorney with a domestic-violence or child-abuse asylum case, please await further guidance unless your case is scheduled for an interview or hearing within the next 90 days. RMIAN refers over 200 cases a year to pro bono attorneys. RMIAN is working diligently and collaborating with national experts to ensure that everyone gets the best guidance possible regarding next steps and best practices to continue fighting for asylum-seeking clients.

Please consider taking action against this shameful decision and standing up for justice with RMIAN through one of the following ways:

1) Publish an op-ed or letter to the editor expressing your support for survivors of domestic violence seeking asylum in the U.S. See sample here.

2) Share your support on social media.

3) If you are a lawyer, contact RMIAN’s Children’s Program Pro Bono Coordinator Lauren Duke at lduke@rmian.org or RMIAN’s Detention Program Pro Bono Coordinator Jessica Burnett at jburnett@rmian.org to sign up to provide pro bono representation to an asylum-seeker facing deportation under this new ruling

4) Donate to RMIAN to support critical efforts in Colorado to provide free legal representation to women and children affected by this decision.