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ACLU files lawsuit against government on asylum issues

Florida immigration advocates may have heard that, on Aug. 7, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the government for not offering asylum to 12 parents and children. The lawsuit argues that the decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to refuse asylum to victims of domestic or gang violence should be invalidated.

Many people from Central American countries are fleeing violence and seeking asylum along the southwest border. Asylum is provided to people who are fleeing their country because they will face persecution as a result of membership in a particular social group,among other reasons. In 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that a woman who was a victim of domestic violence was persecuted because she was part of the social group of Guatemalan women who were unable to leave their relationships. However, Sessions overturned that decision. The Trump administration argues that immigrants are exploiting the asylum process.

Attorneys say the effect was immediate. Asylum seekers who would normally have passed the initial credible fear test were turned away. Attorneys also said more appeals were being denied. The ACLU also sued the government earlier in the year over another immigration issue, that of separating parents and children at the border. The Trump administration has been ordered to reunite them.

As this situation demonstrates, immigration law is currently undergoing a number of changes and challenges. People who are fleeing violence and persecution because of factors such as their religion or race may be eligible for asylum. An attorney may be able to keep people informed about changes in the law as well as what documentation may be necessary to present a compelling case for asylum.

Source: USA Today, "ACLU lawsuit accuses US of wrongfully denying asylum", Aug. 8, 2018

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