But Sessions said that was no longer the case.
"Although there may be exceptional circumstances when victims of private
criminal activity could meet these requirements, they must satisfy
established standards when seeking asylum," Sessions wrote.
"Such applicants must establish membership in a particular and socially
distinct group that exists independently of the alleged underlying harm,
demonstrate that their persecutors harmed them on account of their
membership in that group rather than for personal reasons, and establish
that the government protection from such harm in their home country is
so lacking that their persecutors' actions can be attributed to the
government," he wrote.
Speaking Monday morning an annual training conference for the nation's
hundreds of immigration judges, Sessions said his move "restores sound
principles" of the law.
"Asylum was never meant to alleviate all problems, even all serious
problems, that people face every day all over the world," Sessions said
in a speech earlier Monday at an annual training conference for the
nation's hundreds of immigration judges. "I will be issuing a decision
that restores sound principles of asylum and long standing principles of
Related: Judge in case Sessions picked for immigrant domestic violence
asylum review issued 'clearly erroneous' decisions, says appellate court
Sessions received a warm welcome and reception from the judges present,
who gave him multiple standing ovations at the beginning and end of his
speech. But some leading immigration judges reacted unfavorably to the
President Emeritus of the National Association of Immigration Judges
Judge Dana Leigh Marks told CNN it was "unsettling" that immigration
judges are finding out about a precedential decision from Sessions
at the same time as the public.
"While it's not a surprise that a major decision is going to be
announced today, it's rather unsettling, because we feel like we're
the last to know," Marks said. "And we need time to study and digest
Pro-immigration advocates have criticized Sessions for taking the
case and targeting protections for victims they say have already
been settled as a matter of law.
Sessions also touted recent efforts he's made to require
judges to complete a certain number of cases per year
, an effort
that has been opposed by the immigration judges union who argue it
trades due process rights for unreasonable expectations of
completions that could encourage or force judges to issue more
He also repeatedly discussed what he considers abuse of the nation's
immigration laws, which the judges he spoke to are sworn to uphold.
He referred to the 2016 election results as a bellwether for the
"Let's be clear: We have a goal. And that goal is to end the
lawlessness that now exists in our immigration system," Sessions
said. "The American people have spoken. They have spoken in our laws
and they have spoken in our elections. They want a safe, secure
border and a lawful system of immigration that actually works and
serves the national interest. Thank you for what you do, let's
deliver this for the American people."
Marks and current National Immigration Judges Association President
Judge A. Ashley Tabaddor criticized Sessions for touting the case
completion targets in his speech, as well, with Tabaddor saying
two-thirds of judges are not on track for the Department of
Justice's 700 cases per year target.
"We're still in labor negotiations to discuss ways to achieve more
numerical completions ... we don't agree that 700 is a realistically
achievable number," Marks added. "It's frustrating while we're in
the midst of these negotiations to hear such a firm assertion from
the attorney general. It's as if our concerns are not going to be
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
Sessions again demonstrates his contempt for the fundamental
principles of justice.
Sessions simply fails to balance the probative versus the
prejudice of this decision and
fails to consider the catastrophic effects.
Its already on record, that domestic violence victims are
increasingly failing to report
domestic violence. This will only encourage abuse of the
What his means is, Sessions believes that these victims are sub
human and do not have
any rights regardless of their victim status or right to
protection under the law that Sessions
has tragically removed.